The picture above is from the Landmark Commencement Address at City College of New York. This is MLK standing next to President Buell Gallagher of CUNY. I chose this image because, I think it shows two people black and white both as accomplished students, nothing more, and nothing less. I like the simplicity in it. Race is not a thing here just two educated people and that’s the importance.
In Ward’s podcast, he speaks of MLK spending his time in Newcastle and wanting to study there and how historically it was just a very welcoming place for African Americans. He then mentions how they have found something of value there. Something that draws them all to this place, and it’s different for everyone. The most famous being these medical politics, women’s suffrage, pacifists, and more. So they’ve emerged in all these new ideas, and they’re able to find a place for them here that fits best. I find this an interesting analysis, of how people of color feel more welcomed in a country that is not their own. If were to ask a person of color how they felt during this time in perhaps southern U.S. or other places, I would think that they’d say something quite different than what Ward is describing.
Why is that? Why is that a foreign country seems to be more welcoming of these people?
My theory is perhaps that it’s because they’re trying to correct and make up for the damages or horrors that in the past they put these people through.
From one of King’s Sermons “I See the Promised Land”:
“That is where we are today. And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and 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 world is doomed…..we are determined to get our rightful place in God’s world”
I chose this quote because it’s almost the exact opposite world that Ward describes for people of color from his point of view. It’s almost like these worlds cannot exist together. Take note of the title “I See the Promised Land.” He called it this is because he’s looking towards the future of what he thinks the world can be. The thing is Newcastle seems to already be the future he is looking for.
“Racism is the colored man’s burden, and the white man’s shame” -MLK
This is a quote from his speech at Newcastle. This is interesting because this is one of the first times a person not of color is almost being reprimanded. I wonder how that felt to hear those words. I found it interesting because he wasn’t at all looking for an apology of any kind or even wanting a punishment. He was simply just telling them the truth about themselves. Then he let them marinate in his words, which to me seems to be the greatest punishment of them all. Letting someone get in their own head and feel their guilt.
This truly shows MLK’s character, he believed in nonviolence and lived by that you can see this clearly when he talks. He is a prime example of this. I only believe there is so much strength as far as physicality. I think words are truly a form of power, and knowing how to use them is another power. King mastered both. The pen is truly mightier than the sword.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James Melvin Washington, HarperOne, 1991.