UA Little Rock Professor share story of Desegregating a Little Rock School During Book Launch
By Brittany Desmuke – Join Dr. LaVerne Bell-Tolliver, an associate professor of social work at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, for the launch of her highly anticipated novel, “The First Twenty-Five: An Oral History of the Desegregation of Little Rock’s Public Junior High Schools.”
In 1961, Tolliver was the first and only African American student assigned to attend Forest Heights Junior High School until 1963. Her journey as a pre-teen fighting to break racial barriers in her school saw little to no public recognition, along with the stories of the 24 black students who integrated Little Rock’s four remaining public junior high schools. Click here to Read More
Instead of letting these stories lie dormant, Tolliver was encouraged to compose a novel to share these experiences, hence the birth of “The First Twenty-Five,” which features in-depth interviews from each of the former students.
“On several occasions, I was asked to tell my story of the desegregation process,” Tolliver said. “At some time, I begin to realize that the story was about more than me or
the influence desegregating a school had on my life; that process influenced all of the African American persons who first desegregated the schools. This book, therefore, emerged as a result of the desire, on the part of so many of the first 25 persons who were selected to desegregate the Little Rock public junior high schools, to finally let their voices be heard publicly.”
A panel discussion and book signing featuring members of The First 25 Cohort will kick off the launch of Tolliver’s book. Tolliver and Alvin Terry, who is also one of the 25, will host a discussion and book signing at the UA Little Rock Ottenheimer Library in Suite 202 at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15.
The book also will be featured at the “Black History Month Black Author’s Fair,” which will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the ALLPS School of Innovation at 2350 Old Farmington Road in Fayetteville, AR.
Each event is free and open to the public. Copies of “The First Twenty-Five” will be available for purchase at the events for $34.95 or can be purchased online here.
This book launch is sponsored by the UA Little Rock Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity, Pyramid Art, Books and Custom Framing, and the National Park Service.
Sister Cities Sculpture finds Permanent
Home in South Korea
With hundreds of people gathered around, Michael Warrick, while wearing pure white gloves that matched the chilly Dec. 15, 2017, weather, pulled on a golden rope to reveal a beautiful 7-foot sculpture previously hidden by a white satin sheet. Click here to Read More
While confetti was released to celebrate the dedication of the sculpture, “Youth,” Warrick, a professor of sculpture at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, looked upon the permanent resting home of his artistic creation in the new and beautiful Shinjangdong International Sister Cities Park in Hanam City, South Korea, smiled, and thought, “This is a beautiful site.”
“The dedication was very memorable,” Warrick said. “In honoring the theme of youth, the activities included young drummers, dancers, karate kids, and teens demonstrating breaking boards. The American Taekwondo Association was one of the sponsors for the sculpture, so the Hanam City Martial Arts youth group also performed.”
Warrick created the sculpture to commemorate the 25-year partnership and friendship between the sister cities of Little Rock and Hanam City, which began in 1992. Warrick, Joon Park, president of the Korean American Federation of Arkansas, and three members of the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission – Melanie Berman, Robert Coon, and Ashvin Vibhakar – traveled to South Korea in December to dedicate the sculpture given in the spirit of international friendship. A video of the ceremony can be found here.
“Hanam is one of Little Rock’s longest and most vibrant sister city relationships, and the commission was honored to participate in such a meaningful ceremony to celebrate our 25th anniversary,” Coon said. “Michael’s sculpture perfectly encapsulates Little Rock’s strong and growing relationship with Hanam, and our desire for that friendship to continue on for many years to come.”
The sculpture is a 7-foot figurative female sculpture cast in bronze and composed of vines, leaves, and a small bird. The figure has a traditional green finish, while the small bird is coated with 23.75 karat gold leaf.
“The South Koreans were very proud and honored by the focus and quality of the work,” Coon said. “It doesn’t matter where you are from. You are always looking toward the future, and your children, the youth, are an important part of that. Your culture, community, and businesses are grown from involvement with you. They felt the subject and approach to the sculpture were very appropriate.”
Warrick found inspiration for the sculpture while watching the 2014 Summer Olympics in Rio, and finds it fitting that the sculpture was dedicated shortly before the 2018 Winter Olympics are held in PyeongChang, just a few hours from Hanam City.
“I was very impressed by the grace of the women’s gymnastics team member,” Warrick said. “The figure of the young woman in ‘Youth’ was inspired by the gymnasts.”
He also infused the sculpture with elements of nature – green vines, golden leaves, and a small bird that is meant to represent a person’s soul. Warrick gifted Hanam City Mayor Oh Boo Bong with a small sculpture of a bird and goal leaf, the same elements used on the “Youth” sculpture, on a cherry wood base.
The South Korean delegation gifted the Arkansas visitors with a trip to Jeju Island, a volcanic island and World Heritage Site. During the Dec. 16 tour of the island, the group stopped at a Buddhist Temple. Warrick wrote a prayer in remembrance of his first art teacher, Joe Corsello, who fought in the Korean War. Warrick described this as one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.
“Joe taught for 53 years, 30 in high school and 23 with grade school kids twice a week,” Warrick said. “Our tour guide offered to pay for me to write a prayer on a roofing tile with a white-paint style marker.”
In the future, Hanam City will also donate a Sister Cities sculpture to Little Rock.
Photo information: A delegation from Little Rock attends the dedication ceremony for Michael Warrick’s sculpture, “Youth,” which was gifted to Hanam City, South Korea. The group includes (L to R) Robert Coon, Warrick, Joon Park, Ashvin Vibhakar, and Melanie Berman.
The Clinton Presidential Center is pleased to announce the second annual Fusion: Arts + Humanities Arkansas, a program that promotes our heritage and culture and celebrates human achievement by weaving the arts and humanities together to provide a unique and engaging experience. Click here to Read More
The theme of Fusion 2018 is Exploring the Louisiana Purchase and its Impact on Arkansas.
The Louisiana Purchase has been labeled as the greatest land acquisition in history – a geopolitical success for a nation not even three decades post-independence. In 1803, the United States and France agreed to the sale of 828,000 square miles of French-owned land that would double the size of the United States for less than 3-cents per acre.
Join us for the public symposium of Fusion: Arts + Humanities Arkansas on Sunday, February 11, at 6 p.m. The program will include interactive conversations with historians and subject matter experts; a Cajun-Creole musical performance by Grammy-nominated fiddler, David Greely; and members of the Early Arkansas Reenactors Association who will participate in-character. This event is FREE and open to the public, but reservations are required.
An accompanying exhibit, The Great Expedition: Exploring the Louisiana Purchase and its Impact on Arkansas, will include original documents of the Louisiana Purchase, a death mask and portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, objects from the Dunbar-Hunter expedition of present-day Louisiana and Arkansas, and a forty-foot replica of the boat used by the Dunbar-Hunter expedition. The Great Expedition will be on display at the Clinton Center from February 2 to March 4, 2018.
Fusion 2018 is made possible through the support of the Quapaw Tribe.
RSVP for the Fusion Public Program
Fusion: Arts + Humanities Arkansas
Exploring the Louisiana Purchase and its Impact on Arkansas
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Doors Open: 5:30 p.m. | Program Begins: 6 p.m.
Reception to follow the program, sponsored by Dassault Falcon Jet
Exhibit will be open for touring prior to the program
Clinton Presidential Center, Great Hall
First In- The Harlem Hellfighters of WWI
By Glen Schwarz – On January 1rst of 1918, the 15th New York Infantry Regiment of national guardsmen landed in France. They were only the third American combat unit to arrive in the besieged country. As soon as they landed they were given a new name, the 369th Regiment of the United States Army. But before the year was over, German soldiers would give the outfit a nickname that would stick with them through the ages; the “Harlem Hellfighters.”
The United States had entered the Great War on April 6 of 1917. President Woodrow Wilson had resisted entering the massive European conflict for nearly three years. But unrestricted submarine attacks and German diplomatic blunders had forced his hand. Now the nation faced the task of raising an army and transporting it across the dangerous Atlantic Ocean.
Although building this huge new army would take almost a year, the President did have some resources available. First, he selected General John J. Pershing to command the AEF, the “American Expeditionary Force.” Pershing himself had a nickname from commanding Buffalo Soldiers during the Indian wars of the 1890’s. Men and officers alike called him “Blackjack Pershing.” So, Wilson sent Pershing and his staff over to France to set things up for the army that was to follow.
Pershing arrived in France in late June 1917. About a week later the French leaders arranged for a ceremony at the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French nobleman who had served under George Washington. One of Pershing’s colonels stepped forward to say a few words. He finished his remarks with a sentence that became famous;” Lafayette, we are here.”
After that only two American combat forces arrived in France in 1917. The Army sent their 1rst Division, later to be named the Big Red One. They were followed by a division of National Guardsmen that had been organized by Colonel Douglas MacArthur. They were called the “Rainbow Division” because it contained companies from almost all of the 48 states. Click here to Read More
Now, on the first day of 1918, the 15th New York arrived in port. They were also a National Guard outfit. They were organized and trained as a part of the readiness movement that swept the country in the years around the outbreak of the Great War. It consisted mostly of men from New York’s Harlem district, but African-Americans from all over the country joined its ranks as American involvement became inevitable. Now as the new year of 1918 dawned, the men of the 15th disembarked from their ship. Some must surely have said, as they set foot upon the land, “Lafayette, we are here!”
The Black Community
By Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III – Neighborhoods and communities across the United States are experiencing gentrification and African-Americans, in particular, are feeling the pinch because of soaring home prices just to begin with. Through gentrification, once thriving Black neighborhoods that embodied the history and culture of Black folks have been erased. This isn’t simply happening in places like Washington, D.C. and Detroit, Michigan, but downtown Atlanta, Georgia is seeing a shift. With many Black families forced to leave their homes, communities, and neighborhoods, where are they to relocate to? Are they to forget all of their roots and history? Are they to simply settle for settling, hoping and wishing things will only get better? Perhaps it’s time for the Black community to understand the economic empowerment within their own community. That’s right; the need to charter a course that will see neighborhoods and communities thrive and not become infiltrated is something that is feasible. Will it be easy? No. Will there be opposition? Most definitely. However, through having a vision partnered with commitment and discipline, anything is possible. Click here to Read More
So what do we do? Create and own businesses within our neighborhood and community. Anytime you allow people from outside of the community to set up shop, you have given away ownership of where you live. (Note: this isn’t discrimination, but the people who live in the community and know what the community needs ought to be the ones servicing the community). For too long, African-Americans have missed this important concept. Get involved in the political arena. Political involvement is essential to the fabric of economic empowerment. Neglecting and even forsaking local politics will hinder the success of any group trying to build up and even sustain their community. Beautify the community. Let’s face it – when buildings are abandoned and homes are unkept, there’s a sense of darkness. This only opens the door for gentrification. Think about it – property value is decreased which is a gold mine for investors to buy up, kick out, and change the dynamics. Beautifying and upkeeping buildings and properties go a long way to empowering a community economically. Demand that houses of worship invest in the neighborhood and community. It’s no secret that many pastors are so concerned with getting tithes and offerings to furnish their lavish lifestyle. Well, it’s time that members of these houses of worship demand that their leaders do more community investment. Preaching about money, wealth, and riches is useless when people in the community are hurting. Economically empowering the community is spiritual as it is economical. Hold school board members accountable. Can we be honest and say there’s a disparity between whites and Blacks within the educational sector? Because these members are elected, they must answer to their constituents. Even though they represent the students, in many ways, they have an obligation to make sure that every child receives the best education possible. Parents MUST attend meetings and question what is happening on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It’s been written, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Failure to embrace and uplift one’s community will only lead to people within that community being taken advantage of by the greedy. Economically empowering one’s community begins with the person in the mirror and extends horizontally to all those who are concerned about bettering their community and wanting better. Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III is a speaker, author, and success coach. Follow him on Twitter @drsinclairgrey.org
Remix Ideas and Communities Unlimited, Inc.,
Partner to Provide Microloans for
For Immediate Release
Benito Lubazibwa Metta Smith
Remix Ideas LLC Communities Unlimited, Inc.
(501) 251-3324 (479) 443-2700 Ext. 138
February 1, 2018 (LITTLE ROCK) – Remix Ideas, LLC, an organization building a socially conscious start- up ecosystem to increase the number of successful Black entrepreneurs and Communities Unlimited, Inc., a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), today announced a partnership to work together to bring new financing options to Black entrepreneurs in Little Rock and the surrounding areas. Click here to Read More
This partnership will assist qualifying Black entrepreneurs by providing them microloans. “Remix Ideas and Communities Unlimited share a passion for working with entrepreneurs to start, grow and succeed. Both partners agree that a combination of training, technical assistance and capital is often the key to that success. The lending team at Communities Unlimited is excited about partnering with Remix Ideas by providing start-up and existing business owners the right amount of capital to reach their goals,” said Ines Polonius, CEO of Communities Unlimited.
“We are delighted to partner with Communities Unlimited to expand its small business lending to Black entrepreneurs. Access to capital is one of major barriers that limit Black entrepreneurs from starting or growing their businesses. This collaboration will have a positive impact on the local economy,” added Benito Lubazibwa, Remix Ideas CEO. “This innovative effort will also advance Remix Ideas’ strategic intent to increase the number of successful Black entrepreneurs, democratize entrepreneurship and build an inclusive economy.”
Interested entrepreneurs should contact Remix Ideas at email@example.com to learn more about this microloan program.
About Remix Ideas, LLC
Our mission is to build a socially conscious start-up ecosystem that help to increase the number of successful Black entrepreneurs.
About Communities Unlimited, Inc.
Communities Unlimited is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community development organization providing resources across seven southern states in support of locally-led initiatives to improve the lives of those that live and work in rural communities and neighborhoods within larger urban areas. CU combines fundamental infrastructure improvement with entrepreneurial growth strategies to move rural places along a trajectory toward prosperity. We accomplish this through local on-site technical assistance, training, lending, GIS mapping services and strategic partnerships. Communities Unlimited, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer, lender and provider. www.CommunitiesU.org
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“I’ve Been To The Mountaintop”
Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. [Laughter] It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you, and Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined [Audience:] (Right) to go on anyhow. (Yeah, All right) Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt (Yeah), and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather, across the Red Sea, through the wilderness, on toward the Promised Land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. (All right) I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides, and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon [Applause], and I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. Click here to Read More
But I wouldn’t stop there. (Oh yeah) I would go on even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire (Yes), and I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there. (Keep on) I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there. (Yeah) I would even go by the way that the man for whom I’m named had his habitat, and I would watch Martin Luther as he tacks his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn’t stop there. (All right) But I wouldn’t stop there. (Yeah) [Applause] I would come on up even to 1863 and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there. (Yeah) [Applause] I would even come up to the early thirties and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation, and come with an eloquent cry that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” But I wouldn’t stop there. (All right) Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” [Applause] Now that’s a strange statement to make because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. (All right, Yes) And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men in some strange way are responding. Something is happening in our world. (Yeah) The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.” [Applause] And another reason I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. (Yes) Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. But now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today. [Applause] And also, in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done and done in a hurry to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty; their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. (All right) [Applause] Now I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that he’s allowed me to be in Memphis. (Oh yeah) I can remember [Applause], I can remember when Negroes were just going around, as Ralph has said so often, scratching where they didn’t itch and laughing when they were not tickled. [Laughter, applause] But that day is all over. (Yeah) [Applause] We mean business now and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world. (Yeah) [Applause] And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. (Yeah) We are saying [Applause], we are saying that we are God’s children. (Yeah) [Applause] And if we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live. Now what does all this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. (Yeah) We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula of doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. [Applause] But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. [Applause] Now let us maintain unity. Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. (Right) The issue is injustice.
The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. [Applause] Now we’ve got to keep attention on that. (That’s right) That’s always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window breaking. (That’s right) I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that 1,300 sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn’t get around to that. (Yeah) [Applause] Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again (Yeah), in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be (Yeah) [Applause] and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God’s children here suffering (That’s right), sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. (That’s right) And we’ve got to say to the nation, we know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory. [Applause] We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces. They don’t know what to do. I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church day after day. By the hundreds we would move out, and Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come. But we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.” [Applause] Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” (Yeah) And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the trans-physics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. [Applause] And we went before the fire hoses. (Yeah) We had known water. (All right) If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist or some others, we had been sprinkled. But we knew water. That couldn’t stop us. [Applause] And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them, and we’d go on before the water hoses and we would look at it. And we’d just go on singing, “Over my head, I see freedom in the air.” (Yeah) [Applause] And then we would be thrown into paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. (All right) And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take ’em off.” And they did, and we would just go on in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.” (Yeah) And every now and then we’d get in jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers (Yes) and being moved by our words and our songs. (Yes) And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to (All right), and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we on our struggle in Birmingham. [Applause] Now we’ve got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday. (Yes) Now about injunctions. We have an injunction and we’re going into court tomorrow morning (Go ahead) to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is to be true to what you said on paper. [Applause] If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they haven’t
committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read (Yes) of the freedom of speech. (Yes) Somewhere I read (All right) of the freedom of press. (Yes) Somewhere I read (Yes) that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. [Applause] And so just as I say we aren’t going to let any dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. [Applause] We are going on. We need all of you. You know, what’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. (Amen) It’s a marvelous picture. (Yes) Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somewhere the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones (Yes), and whenever injustice is around he must tell it. (Yes) Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, who said, “When God Speaks, who can but prophesy?” (Yes) Again with Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Yes) Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me (Yes), because He hath anointed me (Yes), and He’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.” (Go ahead) And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years. He’s been to jail for struggling; he’s been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggling; but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. [Applause] Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kyles; I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank all of them, and I want you to thank them because so often preachers aren’t concerned about anything but themselves. [Applause] And I’m always happy to see a relevant ministry. It’s all right to talk about long white robes over yonder, in all of its symbolism, but ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. [Applause] It’s all right to talk about streets flowing with milk and honey, but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here and His children who can’t eat three square meals a day. [Applause] It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. [Applause] This is what we have to do. Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now we are poor people, individually we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively, that means all of us together, collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it. (Yeah) [Applause] We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles; we don’t need any Molotov cocktails. (Yes)
We just need to go around to these stores (Yes sir), and to these massive industries in our country (Amen), and say, “God sent us by here (All right) to say to you that you’re not treating His children right. (That’s right) And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment where God’s children are concerned. Now if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.” [Applause] And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight (Amen) to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. (Yeah) [Applause] Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. (Yeah)[Applause] Tell them not to buy–what is the other bread?–Wonder Bread. [Applause] And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. [Applause] As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now only the garbage men have been feeling pain. Now we must kind of redistribute that pain. [Applause] We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies, and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right. (That’s right, Speak) [Applause] Now not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. (That’s right, Yeah) I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. (Yeah) [Applause] We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. (Yes) Go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something that we don’t do ourselves in SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we’re doing, put your money there. [Applause] You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.” [Applause] Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base, and at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. (There you go) And I ask you to follow through here. [Applause] Now let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. (Amen) Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. [Applause] And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school, be there. [Applause] Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike (Yeah), but either we go up together or we go down together. [Applause] Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus (That’s right), and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base. [Recording interrupted] Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from midair and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. (Yeah) And he talked about a certain man who fell among thieves. (Sure) You remember that a Levite (Sure) and a priest passed by on the other side; they didn’t stop to help him. Finally, a man of another race came by. (Yes sir) He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying this was the good man, this was the great man because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother. Now, you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. (Yeah) At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that one who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony. (All right) And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather, to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association. [Laughter] That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect. [Laughter] But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road. (That’s right) I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. (Yeah) And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. (Yes) It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about twelve hundred miles, or rather, twelve hundred feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about twenty-two feet below sea level.
That’s a dangerous road. (Yes) In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.” And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. (Go ahead) Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking (Yeah), and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. (Oh yeah) And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” (All right) But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight. (Yes) Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?” Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” (Yes) The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question. [Applause] Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. (Amen) And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you. (Yes sir) You know, several years ago I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing and I said, “Yes.” The next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured you’re drowned in your own blood, that’s the end of you. (Yes sir) It came out in the New York Times the next morning that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheelchair of the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the president and the vice president; I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. (Yes) But there was another letter (All right) that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter and I’ll never forget
- It said simply, “Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.” She said, “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.” (Yes) [Applause] And I want to say tonight [Applause], I want to say tonight that I, too, am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed (All right), I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960 (Well), when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up (Yes sir) for the best in the American dream and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy, which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed (Yes), I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in interstate travel. (All right) If I had sneezed (Yes), I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed [Applause], if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been here in 1963 (All right), when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. (Yes) If I had sneezed [Applause], I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great movement there. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. (Yes) I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze. And they were telling me. [Applause] Now it doesn’t matter now. (Go ahead) It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane–there were six of us–the pilot said over the public-address system: “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.” And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out (Yeah), or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers. Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. (Amen) But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. (Yeah) [Applause] And I don’t mind. [Applause continues] Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. (Yeah) And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. (Go ahead) And I’ve looked over (Yes sir), and I’ve seen the Promised Land. (Go ahead) I may not get there with you. (Go ahead) But I want you to know tonight (Yes), that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. [Applause] (Go ahead, Go ahead) And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. [Applause] —Delivered at Bishop Charles Mason Temple.
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