#IamMLK: On Racism, Riots, and Social Progress

The following excerpts on racism, riots and social progress are from Martin Luther King Jr’s “The Other America” speech at Stanford in 1967.

He spoke then on social tensions stemming from great inequalities, but could be speaking today.

How far have we come in the last fifty years? How far will we go in the next fifty?


Racism is still alive in American society and much more widespread than we realize…Many in moments of anger, many in moments of deep bitterness engage in riots…Riots are socially destructive and self defeating. But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions that cause people to feel that they must engage in riotous activity as it is for me to condemn riots…

A riot is the language of the unheard.

What has America failed to hear?

…the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years

…the promise of freedom and justice have not been met

…large segments of white society are more concerned with tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity…

Our nation’s summers of riot are caused by our nation’s winters of delay.

Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.


“Social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability,” said Dr. King. “It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals.”

Pediatrician Rhea M. Boyd is celebrating the acts of individuals by launching #IamMLK, a twitter campaign for you to share what you are doing on a daily basis to confront injustice within your sphere of influence.

What are you doing to further social progress and genuine equality?

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