Social Justice

Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks - Part Two

1964 speech on “The American Dream” at Drew University, Madison NJ

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TITLE: Martin Luther King, Jr., “The American Dream” (February 5, 1964)

CREATORS: Martin Luther King, Jr., Drew University Archives

SOURCE: Internet Archive upload from Drew University Archives

LICENSE: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 (Creative Commons By Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike)

We tend to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. for his great oratory and rhetorical skills.  However, he was also a trenchant thinker who was not satisfied with looking at symptoms. He continued analyzing until he uncovered root causes.  Once he discovered the truths at the core of America’s racial tragedy, he then synthesized resources and solutions – and communicated them brilliantly.

This 1964 speech is a wonderful example of King’s skills and methods.  Here, in Part Two of the speech, he explains the error of the white gradualists under the rubric “the myth of time”; he explains the necessary-but-not-sufficient power of legislation; he explains the broad-based effects of Black poverty; he explains the particularly egregious effects of automation on Black workers; and he explains in detail the process and positive results of non-violent resistance.

Click on the arrow below to access Part Two of the speech.

To go to a particular timestamp, click to the right or left on the bars.
Important timestamps are as follows:

0:12 – “It is necessary to develop an action program…”
1:50 – “the appalling silence of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
2:00 – “Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability.”
3:05 – “It may be true that morality cannot be legislated – but behavior can be regulated.”
6:00 – “…to work with determination to see that this bill is passed and that the coalition in Congress…will not again serve as the legislative incinerator that will burn to ashes this meaningful civil rights bill.”
8:28 – “The problem of housing discrimination is a glaring reality, all over this country, North and South.”
9:44 – “The Negro is still somehow caught and smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.”
12:55 – “Now I would like to take a few minutes to say something about this method, or this philosophy, of non-violence…”

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