Box 16, Folder 6, Document 79

Dublin Core


Box 16, Folder 6, Document 79

Text Item Type Metadata


Eugene Patterson
MLK: Where
The Action Is?
WASHINGTON -The liberal Washington
Post said Thursday that many who have
listened to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with
respect in the past "will never again accord him the same confidence. He has diminished his usefulness to· his cause, to his
country and to his people. And that is a great tragedy." The Atlanta Negro leader deliberately dumped a hod cf bricks on his
own head when he narrowed his base in the civil r ights movement
to the confines of the Vietnam " peace movement. "
But the civil rights movement as it was practiced nonviolently under Dr. King was in trouble anyway. His demonstrations had won their big battles. The antipoverty progr am he
advocated had been hiring the old militant leaders and moving
them off the streets and into offices where they were invited to
perform instead of protest.
A fringe of " black power" advocates stole the stage. For all
their admirable goals of instilling pride of race in the Negro,
their technique was a dangerous reverse demogoguery and a
ready resort to violence.
The riots that ensued were disastrous for the civil rights
movement. After each outburst of lawlessness and vandalism,
white support dwindled, anti-Negro enmities hardened, and civil
rights leaders struggled to minimize the damage with cooling-off
periods that broke the momentum of the movement.
Then as the black power racists began expelling whites, wlio
used to make up a big contingent of the nonviolent demonstrations,
the war in Vietnam gave these white youngsters somewhere else
to go.
The same university campuses that supplied manpower and
money for the civil rights movement are preoccupied almost exclusively now with the peace-in-Vietnam protests. That's whef'e
the action is, all of a sudden, for the white kids who have been
told by Stokely Carmichael that the Negro doesn't need them
any more.
Dr. King must have watched this breaking up of a r ational
civil rights movement with deep dismay.
Without questioning his obviously deep-felt convictions about
e Vietnam, one can see that he is now in position to· salvage at
least some of the dissipated following of the civil rights movement, assuming a drastically narrow base is better than no
base at all.
Yet there is disappointment among many who had hop-ed
Dr. King would somehow overcome the obstacles and revitalize
a responsible movement within the civil rights arena itself, and
not !ollow !he bla~k powe~ hotheads int~ the emotional tangle of
foreign policy. This he failed to do. It IS probably right to call
it a tragedy. It now seems likely that the less spectacular but
harder working old organizations like the NAACP and the Urban
Lea~e. wip. have to ta_ke up the burden of new responsibilities if
the CIVIi nghts cause 1s to have continuity hereafter.

Social Bookmarking


Transcribe This Item


Document Viewer