Monday, January 15, 2018


From Martin Luther King’s “The Other America,” a speech delivered at Grosse Pointe South High School, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, March 14, 1968, three weeks before King was assassinated:

[W]e will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation. And we must see racism for what it is. It is the myth of an inferior people. It is the notion that one group has all of the knowledge, all of the insights, all of the purity, all of the worth, all of the dignity. And another group is worthless, on a lower level of humanity, inferior. To put it in philosophical language, racism is not based on some empirical generalization which, after some studies, would come to conclusion that these people are behind because of environmental conditions. Racism is based on an ontological affirmation. It is the notion that the very being of a people is inferior. And the ultimate logic of racism is genocide.
Here is a recounting of the speech and its circumstances from Jude Huetteman, who invited King to speak in Grosse Pointe. Transcripts may be found at Friends’ Central School and the Grosse Pointe Historical Society. I’ve followed the Friends’ transcript in choosing “myth,” not “nymph” (an obvious mishearing: King says “myth” in a 1967 speech); “ the worth,” not “work” (a likely mishearing); and “the ultimate logic,” not “their” (in accord with King’s phrasing in a 1966 speech. I’ve made two small changes in punctuation. In October 2017 the original cassette recording of the Grosse Pointe speech sold at auction for $12,240.20.

An accurate transcript of this speech belongs at the King Center and King Institute, don’t you think?

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.

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