July 25, 2017

It’s a good day to watch Martin Luther King deliver his “Two Americas” speech

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Amid all the noise of the present moment, you couldn’t do too much better than to watch Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legendary “Two Americas” speech, delivered at Stanford on April 14, 1967 — less than a year before he was murdered.

One America, King says, is “overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity.” He goes on:

But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infected vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. In a sense, the greatest tragedy of this other America is what it does to little children. Little children in this other America are forced to grow up with clouds of inferiority forming every day in their little mental skies. As we look at this other America, we see it as an arena of blasted hopes and shattered dreams.

“I refuse to despair,” King says he winds up. “Our destiny is tied up in the destiny of America.” You should certainly take forty-eight minutes to watch this:


 

We’re proud to publish Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. Copies can be purchased here, or at your neighborhood independent bookstore.

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