"THE ARCH OF THE MORAL UNIVERSE IS LONG, BUT IT BENDS TOWARD JUSTICE": FIRST SEPARATE EDITION OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING'S ADDRESS, THE ROLE OF THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENTISTS IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, DELIVERED SEVEN MONTHS BEFORE HIS ASSASSINATION
KING, Martin Luther, Jr. The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement. Lancaster: Lancaster Press, 1968. Slim quarto, original green printed wrappers, staple-bound as issued; pp. 180-186. $3800.
First separate printing of Dr. King's provocative and often blunt Address, delivered in September 1967 before an annual convention of the American Psychological Association, declaring "America needs to understand that it is poisoned to its soul by racism" but asserting "I have not lost hope… I can still sing… 'We shall overcome,'" a fine copy.
On September 1, 1967, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in Washington, D.C. to deliver this Address, it was a time of crisis for both the nation and King, who saw it as a period of "difficult days… days of frustration" (Carrow, Bearing the Cross, 577). King urged "social scientists to play a more active role" in analyzing American racism and "minced no words… calling racism and its effects 'deep… gigantic in extent, and chaotic in detail'" (DeAngelis, Answering MLK Jr.'s Wake-Up Call). "White America needs to understand that it is poisoned to its soul by racism," he stated. That "understanding needs to be carefully documented and consequently more difficult to reject… white America has an appalling lack of knowledge concerning the reality of Negro life… it was the Negro who educated the nation by dramatizing the evils through nonviolent protest. The social scientist played little or no role in disclosing truth." King also spoke of Charles Loomis, President of the American Sociological Association, who made a speech only two days before at an ASA convention, in which he called for African Americans to leave the U.S. and move to South America. "I feel," King said, "that it is rather absurd and appalling that a leading social scientist today would suggest to Black people, that after all these years of suffering an exploitation as well as investment in the American dream, that we should turn around and run at this point in history. I say that we will not run!"
King emphasized the need for analysis of systemic roots to Black unemployment, and described urban slums as "the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison." He further pointed to recent riots, stating they "must now be recognized as durable social phenomena… a distorted form of social protest." King also raised the controversy over his decision to speak out against the Vietnam War, declaring: "The bombs that fall in Vietnam explode at home." In his closing words King said: "I have not lost hope… if the inexpressable cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition that we now face will surely fail… And so I can still sing… 'We shall overcome' [sic]… we shall overcome because the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Seven months after he spoke those words, Dr. King was murdered. First separate edition: "Reprinted from American Psychologist, Vol. 23, No. 3. March 1968." Also serialized in Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 24, Number 1, 1968: which was "in galley proof" at the time of King's death (Journal of Social Issues). Not in Pyatt.
A fine copy in the original wrappers.