Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

MLK Jr.From his speech, "The Birth of a New Nation," a sermon delivered on April 7, 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on struggle, resistance, nonviolence, and the new nation of Ghana (quotation courtesy of

"So don’t go out this morning with any illusions. Don’t go back into your homes and around Montgomery thinking that the Montgomery City Commission and that all of the forces in the leadership of the South will eventually work out this thing for Negroes. It’s going to work out; it’s going to roll in on the wheels of inevitability. If we wait for it to work itself out, it will never be worked out. Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil. The bus protest is just the beginning. Buses are integrated in Montgomery, but that is just the beginning. And don’t sit down and do nothing now because the buses are integrated, because if you stop now we will be in the dungeons of segregation and discrimination for another hundred years, and our children and our children’s children will suffer all of the bondage that we have lived under for years. It never comes voluntarily. We’ve got to keep on keeping on in order to gain freedom. It never comes like that. It would be fortunate if the people in power had sense enough to go on and give up, but they don’t do it like that. It is not done voluntarily, but it is done through the pressure that comes about from people who are oppressed.

"If there had not been a Gandhi in India with all of his noble followers, India would have never been free. If there had not been an Nkrumah and his followers in Ghana, Ghana would still be a British colony. If there had not been abolitionists in America, both Negro and white, we might still stand today in the dungeons of slavery. And then because there have been, in every period, there are always those people in every period of human history who don’t mind getting their necks cut off, who don’t mind being persecuted and discriminated and kicked about, because they know that freedom is never given out, but it comes through the persistent and the continual agitation and revolt on the part of those who are caught in the system. Ghana teaches us that."
(Photo by Benedict Fernandez, from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Boston)


  1. So very nice to read the parts of King usually edited out.

  2. i was just about to say the same thing keguro said. i get tired of reading and hearing i have a dream and letter from a birmingham jail over and over again like those are the only two works he has. granted, i love letter from a birmingham jail, but its nice to have fresh perspectives to an issue that stands today.

  3. Mendi, Keguro, Jameil, I wanted to find something other than the two speeches that are usually posted. I continue to be fascinated by King's interest in decolonization, which is rarely discussed. I came across an account of his visit to Jamaica, and his immediate and profound comments with the people who came out to hear him, many of whom, now in their late 50s and 60s, STILL remember verbatim some of his impromptu speeches to them. We tend to think of Malcolm X as aware of the diaspora and of pan-African and transnational issues, but King was too. This is a key aspect of this man and his memory that we cannot lose.