November 10, 1967
Massive Action Urged
King Says Negro In Economic Trap
By RICHARD E. BALDWIN
American Negroes are trapped in, an economic depression more severe than the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Declared here Thursday night as he called for "a massive action program" to bring social justice to the nation.
Dr King, President of the Southern Leadership Conference, spoke on "The Future of Integration" before about 2,500 persons at Kleinhans Music Hall. His talk was sponsored by the Graduate Student Association at the University of Buffalo.
"We are moving toward the day when we will judge a man by his character and ability instead of by the color of his skin."
Martin Luther King Jr., November 10, 1967
$40 Billion Program Urged
The Negro civil rights leader addressing the predominantly white audience suggested the expendaature of $40 billion in the next two years to eliminate slums and poverty for all races in the United States. The federal anti-poverty program for the last full year amounted to $1.6 billion.
"There is a mix-up in our national priorities," Dr. King said. "when we are spending $500,000 to kill one enemy soldier in Vietnam, and only $50 a year to lift each American out of poverty." He suggested that some of the money being spent to put a man on the moon might be better spent "to put a man on his feet here in America."
"Our cities are going down the drain,: he said, and the threatened cuts in the antipoverty program "would be an open invitation to riots. Our winters of delay are the causes of the summers of riots.
Should Condemn Riots Causes
"Revolts grow out of revolting conditions. There are dark nights of social disruption, but it is the policy makers of white society who have created the darkness. Riots are immoral, but we also should condemn the causes of riots, and those causes were not manufactured by the Negro."
Dr. King noted that he disapproved of riots as a means of attaining social justice. "But," he said, disappointment breeds despair; despair leads to bitterness, and where there is bitterness an explosion will develop.
Pushing on Island of Poverty
"Negroes are perishing on an island of poverty in a vast ocean of economic prosperity. Conditions for the masses of Negroes are worsening instead of improving, and we are facing a major depression.
"Negro unemployment is about 16 per cent, which is more staggering that the total unemployment during the depression of the 1930s, and 50 per cent of our young Negro men are unemployed or are earning less than the poverty level.
Says Schools Inadequate
"Many of the schools are so inadequate that the best that is in these young minds can never come out."
Dr. King questioned "whether our nation has the will to overcome poverty. With 42 million poverty stricken persons, the national administration seems more concerned with winning an unjust war in Vietnam than with winning the War on Poverty.
"Struggle More Difficult"
He said the civil rights struggle is more difficult than it was three years ago, "because we were trying to end legal segregation then, but now our struggle is for genuine equality. It did not cost one penny to integrate the lunch counters, but the tragic expressions of racism that we are fighting now will cost the nation millions of dollars."
Cites Election Victories
Dr. King rejected the notion the Negroes "should pull themselves up by their bootstraps," because the very persons who make that suggestion are often the ones who benefited most by free land grants and government subsidies. He noted that Negroes were given no grants of land or money when they were freed from slavery. No other ethnic group, he pointed out, ever served in slavery "on this nations soil."
Tracing the history of Negroes in America, Dr. King said, "We have made some significant strides but we still have a long way to go as we seek racial justice." He cited some Negro victories in Tuesday's elections and said, "We are moving toward the day when we will judge a man by his character and ability instead of by the color of his skin."
Turning to a discussion of the Vietnam war, Dr. King said the United States is "morally isolated" by its role in the war "and not a single major ally is aiding us there" He said the war is "bringing us closer to World War III. And a nuclear confrontation," and a majority of Americans oppose the war.
He added, however, that he did not feel that a "peace" candidate running in a third political party could be elected president next year. Dr. King said there were a number of "peace" candidates who could be nominated by one of the major parties, and such a candidate would be elected.
"We Shall Overcome"
The civil rights leader concluded that, "although there are difficult days ahead, I have faith in the future, and we shall overcome!"
His talk was interrupted several times by applause, and he received standing ovations when he arrived on stage and when he left.
He was escorted to an awaiting car by six Buffalo policemen-- three of them white and three Negro, including Asst. Det. Chief Floyd Edwards. Dr. King noted that his last police escort was last week when he was taken to an Alabama jail to serve a five-day sentence for his part in a civil rights march.
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