On April 14, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech at Stanford University. During this time, which was about one year before King’s death, Dr. King’s movement addressed a range of issues, including race, Vietnam, poverty, and economic justice. This speech at Stanford would become known as “The Other America” speech, and King would continue to give various speeches on the theme for the next year.
In the speech, King explained: “But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency 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-infested, 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.”
Yet, near the end of the speech, King still spoke of hope. “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward Justice. We shall overcome because Carlyle is right, “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right, “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right, “Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne — Yet that scaffold sways the future.” With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
A transcript of this speech is available here.
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