The myth of Martin Luther King often appears to have more to do with Gandhi or the Buddha than to the actual man himself. It can be amusing to use his words to trigger SJWs, who don’t hesitate to declare them deplorably racist right up until the moment they discover whose words they are.
Alex Haley: Your dissatisfaction with the Civil Rights Act reflects that of most other Negro spokesmen. According to recent polls, however, many whites resent this attitude, calling the Negro “ungrateful” and “unrealistic” to press his demands for more.
Martin Luther King: This is a litany to those of us in this field. “What more will the Negro want?” “What will it take to make these demonstrations end?” Well, I would like to reply with another rhetorical question: Why do white people seem to find it so difficult to understand that the Negro is sick and tired of having reluctantly parceled out to him those rights and privileges which all others receive upon birth or entry in America? I never cease to wonder at the amazing presumption of much of white society, assuming that they have the right to bargain with the Negro for his freedom. This continued arrogant ladling out of pieces of the rights of citizenship has begun to generate a fury in the Negro. Even so, he is not pressing for revenge, or for conquest, or to gain spoils, or to enslave, or even to marry the sisters of those who have injured him. What the Negro wants—and will not stop until he gets—is absolute and unqualified freedom and equality here in this land of his birth, and not in Africa or in some imaginary state. The Negro no longer will be tolerant of anything less than his due right and heritage. He is pursuing only that which he knows is honorably his. He knows that he is right.
But every Negro leader since the turn of the century has been saying this in one form or another. It is because we have been so long and so conscientiously ignored by the dominant white society that the situation has now reached such crisis proportions. Few white people, even today, will face the clear fact that the very future and destiny of this country are tied up in what answer will be given to the Negro. And that answer must be given soon.
Alex Haley: If it’s morally right for supporters of civil rights to violate segregation laws which they consider unjust, why is it wrong for segregationists to resist the enforcement of integration laws which they consider unjust?
Martin Luther King: Because segregation, as even the segregationists know in their hearts, is morally wrong and sinful. If it weren’t, the white South would not be haunted as it is by a deep sense of guilt for what it has done to the Negro—guilt for patronizing him, degrading him, brutalizing him, depersonalizing him, thingifying him; guilt for lying to itself. This is the source of the schizophrenia that the South will suffer until it goes through its crisis of conscience.
Alex Haley: One of the basic precepts of black nationalism has been the attempt to engender a sense of communion between the American Negro and his African “brother,” a sense of identity between the emergence of black Africa and the Negro’s struggle for freedom in America. Do you feel that this is a constructive effort?
Martin Luther King: Yes, I do, in many ways. There is a distinct, significant and inevitable correlation. The Negro across America, looking at his television set, sees black statesmen voting in the United Nations on vital world issues, knowing that in many of America’s cities, he himself is not yet permitted to place his ballot. The Negro hears of black kings and potentates ruling in palaces, while he remains ghettoized in urban slums. It is only natural that Negroes would react to this extreme irony. Consciously or unconsciously, the American Negro has been caught up by the black Zeitgeist. He feels a deepening sense of identification with his black African brothers, and with his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean. With them he is moving with a sense of increasing urgency toward the promised land of racial justice.
Alex Haley: Do you feel that the African nations, in turn, should involve themselves more actively in American Negro affairs?
Martin Luther King: I do indeed. The world is now so small in terms of geographic proximity and mutual problems that no nation should stand idly by and watch another’s plight. I think that in every possible instance Africans should use the influence of their governments to make it clear that the struggle of their brothers in the U.S. is part of a worldwide struggle. In short, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, for we are tied together in a garment of mutuality. What happens in Johannesburg affects Birmingham, however indirectly. We are descendants of the Africans. Our heritage is Africa. We should never seek to break the ties, nor should the Africans.
Alex Haley: Do you feel it’s fair to request a multibillion-dollar program of preferential treatment for the Negro, or for any other minority group?
Martin Luther King: I do indeed. Can any fair-minded citizen deny that the Negro has been deprived? Few people reflect that for two centuries the Negro was enslaved, and robbed of any wages—potential accrued wealth which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America’s wealth today could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation and humiliation. It is an economic fact that a program such as I propose would certainly cost far less than any computation of two centuries of unpaid wages plus accumulated interest
Alex Haley: If Negroes are also granted preferential treatment in housing, as you propose, how would you allay the alarm with which many white homeowners, fearing property devaluation, greet the arrival of Negroes in hitherto all-white neighborhoods?
Martin Luther King: We must expunge from our society the myths and half-truths that engender such groundless fears as these. In the first place, there is no truth to the myth that Negroes depreciate property. The fact is that most Negroes are kept out of residential neighborhoods so long that when one of us is finally sold a home, it’s already depreciated. In the second place, we must dispel the negative and harmful atmosphere that has been created by avaricious and unprincipled realtors who engage in “blockbusting.” If we had in America really serious efforts to break down discrimination in housing and at the same time a concerted program of Government aid to improve housing for Negroes. I think that many white people would be surprised at how many Negroes would choose to live among themselves, exactly as Poles and Jews and other ethnic groups do.
Looking back with the benefit of 52 years of hindsight, it should be entirely clear to anyone with a reasonable grasp of history that the Civil Rights movement was founded on a series of misconceptions, erroneous beliefs, false predictions, and outright lies, and that those who opposed the movement were entirely right to do so. 1965 was a seminal year in the destruction of the United States of America, and it is deeply ironic that one of the more symbolically important destroyers is celebrated today.