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A riot is the language of the unheard

Reddit Flipboard This weekend commemorates the 50th anniversary not just of one of the greatest speeches in American history -- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In one of the most stirring refrains of his speech, A riot is the language of the unheard. King told the crowd assembled before the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

The path to this dream, Dr. King said, must be through non-violence: Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights -- of meeting physical force with soul force. Three years later in 1966, in an interview with Mike Wallace, Dr. King continued to stress the path of non-violence, despite a summer of violence.

Race riots were taking place across the country, and rifts in the civil rights movement were widening. Militant leaders - like Stokely Carmichael and his call for "black power" -- demanded that the movement part from Dr. Despite such pressure, Dr. King would not budge. I contend that the cry of "black power" is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro.

MLK: A riot is the language of the unheard

I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. King fought on, non-violently, for two more years. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the day after he gave his moving "Mountaintop" speech in which he told a crowd in Memphis that he'd seen the "Promised Land" of a just country, but tragically predicted: I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.

Below is the text of Mike's Sept.

  1. Three years later in 1966, in an interview with Mike Wallace, Dr. The fact is, that the negro faces a literal depression all over the U.
  2. One was the education bill and something else. It's going to be more difficult from here on in but I believe we're going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of America is freedom and our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America.
  3. Alright, thank you very much. And the great problem is that the nation has not used its winters creatively enough to develop the program, to develop the kind of massive acts of concern that will bring about a solution to the problem.
  4. I wish I had time to go into the dimensions of this. I believe in original sin not in terms of the historical event but as the mythological category to explain the universality of evil, so I'm honest enough to see the gone-wrongness of human nature so naturally I'm not against changing the heart and I do feel that that is the half truth involved here, that there is some truth in the whole question of changing the heart.
  5. Then I had to go on to say to him that you failed to realize that America made the black man's color a stigma. One was the education bill and something else.

King for CBS Reports. Now what I'm saying is this: I would like for all of us to believe in non-violence, but I'm here to say tonight that if every Negro in the United States turns against non-violence, I'm going to stand up as a lone voice and say, "This is the wrong way! I will never change in my basic idea that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice.

I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral. There's an increasingly vocal minority who disagree totally with your tactics, Dr. There's no doubt about that. I will agree that there is a group in the Negro community advocating violence now.

I happen to feel that this group represents a numerical minority. Surveys have revealed this.

The vast majority of Negroes still feel that the best way to deal with the dilemma that we face in this country is through non-violent resistance, and I don't think this vocal group will be able to make a real dent in the Negro community in terms of swaying 22 million Negroes to this particular point of view.

And I contend that the cry of "black power" is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. How many summers like this do you imagine that we can expect?

  1. And until it is removed, there will be people walking the streets of live and living in their humble dwellings feeling that they are nobody, feeling that they have no dignity and feeling that they are not respected.
  2. I feel like opposing it for many reasons. My hope is that it will be non-violent.
  3. But our destinies are tied together.
  4. Every code of jurisprudence would rise up against it. King fought on, non-violently, for two more years.

Well, I would say this: The mood of the Negro community now is one of urgency, one of saying that we aren't going to wait. That we've got to have our freedom. We've waited too long. So that I would say that every summer we're going to have this kind of vigorous protest. My hope is that it will be non-violent. I would hope that we can avoid riots because riots are self-defeating and socially destructive. I would hope that we can avoid riots, but that we would be as militant and as determined next summer and through the winter as we have been this summer.

And I think the answer about how long it will take will depend on the federal government, on the city halls of our various cities, and on White America to a large extent.

A riot is the language of the unheard is where we are at this point, and I think White America will determine how long it will be and which way we go in the future. Jacob Javits asked the question recently. He said that he was a slum resident, but he and some of his fellow Jews were able to make it out of the ghetto on the lower East Side of New York.

The same thing is true with lots of Irish, Italians, and he asked the question why the Negro finds it so difficult to make his own way up out of the ghetto? Number one, no other racial group has been a slave on American soil.

The One Perfect Martin Luther King Jr. Quote That Everyone Needs to Remember During Riots

It's nice to say other people were down and they got up. They were not slaves on American soil. The other thing is that the Negro has had high visibility, and because of the prejudices existing in this country his color has been against him.

What Martin Luther King Jr Really Thought About Riots

It's been against him and they've used this to keep him from moving up. In the final analysis, when you say to a man that you are in this position because of your race or because of your color, you say to that man that he can never get out of it.

Other racial groups have been able maybe to change their accent or to change their names, but the Negro can't.