Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King

The first day of classes here always coincides with the MLK holiday. Although staff are invited to use a flexible holiday to observe the day, it is not the best time for a lot of people to be off. Friends Historical Library Curator Chris Densmore sent around these quotes from Dr. King today. Wishing to observe the day, especially at a time when I think we need to revisit our national moral compass more than ever (war, New Orleans, etc.), I'm just going to copy-n-paste the quotes here.
[On Nonviolence]
That is another thing about the nonviolent resistance. The nonviolent resister not only avoids external physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. The oppressed people of the world must not succumb top the temptation of becoming bitter or engaging in hate campaigns. We must somehow come to see that this leads us only deeper and deeper into the mire; to return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of hate and evil in the universe. So somehow people in this university must have sense enough and morality enough to return hate for love.

[On Maladjustment]
All of us are desirous of living the well-adjusted life. I know I am, and we must be concerned about living a well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But I say to you... that there are certain things without our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted, and I call upon you to be maladjusted to all of these things. I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to the viciousness of mob rule. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions which take necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence.

[On the Future]
I close by quoting the words of an old Negro slave preacher who didn't have his grammar quite right. But he uttered words with profound meaning. The words were in the form of a prayer: "Lord, we ain't what we want to be, we ain't what we ought to be, we ain't what we gonna' be, but thank God, we ain't what we was." And so tonight I say, "We ain't what we ought to be, but thank God we ain't what we was." And let us continue, my friends, going on and on toward that great city where all men will live together as brothers in respected dignity and worth of all human personality. This will be a great day, a day, figuratively speaking, when the "morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy."

-- Friends Journal, July 26, 1958, 442-4. From Martin Luther King's address, "Nonviolence and Racial Justice" presented at Friends General Conference in 1958. The records of FGC including the tape of Dr. King's address are at Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.


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