Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Martin Luther King, Jr., March 18, 1964

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:07 - Civil rights over generations

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Partial Transcript: Do you see your father's role, and your own role as historical phases of the same process?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King explains the civil rights strategies of his father's times and those of the contemporary era, as well as the future of the movement.

Keywords: Generational fights for equality; Legislative change; Mutual acceptance; Nonviolent direct action; The "Negro" Movement

Subjects: Civil rights; Generations; Nonviolence; Segregation

00:04:16 - Responsibility of the "negroes"

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Partial Transcript: What problems, responsibilities, and obligations would you say the "negro" would have in this relationship, in this third phase?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King explains what the next steps will be for the "negro" in the United States.

Keywords: Desegregation; Discrimination; Gandhi; Irving Howe; Raise standards; Ralph Ellison; The "negro"

Subjects: African Americans; Civil rights movement; Gandhi, Mahatma, 1869-1948; Self-efficacy

00:07:09 - Dr. King, a sell out?

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Partial Transcript: Dr. Kenneth Clark has remarked in print, that your appeal to many white people is because you lull them into some sense of security. . .

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King tries to explain his actions in regard to accusations from other "negro" leaders.

Keywords: "Pandering to the white man"; Accusations; Bitterness; Hatred; Love; Love in action; Morality; Resistance; Violence

Subjects: African Americans; Civil rights movements; Nonviolence; Whites

00:10:12 - Reparations for slavery

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Partial Transcript: Let's take the Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War. . .

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King responds to the question of whether slave owners should receive reparations and what that might have achieved in the long run.

Keywords: Attitudes; Emotional responses; Freedom with compensation for the former slaves; Gunnar Myrdal; Reconstruction Era; Solutions

Subjects: Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877); Reparations for historical injustices; Slavery

00:15:22 - Revolution and a single leader

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Partial Transcript: All revolutions, as far as I know. . .all have had the. . . tendency. . .to move toward a centralized leadership. . .

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King explains the goal of unified leadership, preferring this to the evolution of a single leader over the entire revolution.

Keywords: Centralized leadership within a revolution; Control; Massive action programs; Potential; Random violence; Revolution; Shared governance

Subjects: Leadership; Nonviolence

00:19:43 - Integration of public schools

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Partial Transcript: Let me read a quotation from uh, uh, Mr. Galamison about the schools and the boycott.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King talks about the public school system and integration. He also responds to the words of Reverend Galamison.

Keywords: Busing; Cities; Destroying the school system; Inferiority; Milton Galamison; National consciousness; New York City; Pyschology; Quantity vs. quality; Residential segregation; School boycotts; Superiority; Urban populations

Subjects: Discrimination; Housing; Public schools; School integration; Segregation; Segregation in education; Washington (D.C.)

00:26:44 - Splitting the psyche of the "negro" / African or American?

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Partial Transcript: Uh, a question that lies behind part of this. . . the possible split in the "negro" psyche. . .

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King attempts to explain the range of the "negro's" psyche. Examples include: denying individual blackness, and replacing it white ideology, embracing both blackness and African origins to the fullest extent.

Keywords: African; American; Black pride; Conspicuous consumption; Cultural heritage; E. Franklin Frazier; Homogeneity; Howard Law School; Intruder in the Dust; Middle class; Paternalism; Self appreciation; W.E.B. Du Bois

Subjects: African Americans--Race identity; Assimilation (Sociology); Faulkner, William; Identity; Rejection (Psychology)

00:32:44 - Slogan: "freedom now"

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Partial Transcript: What about the, uh, meaning uh, of freedom now?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King explains the meaning of the slogan "freedom now."

Keywords: "Time is neutral"; Bible; Expediting the freedom process; Gradualism; Historical processes; Oppression; Poetry; Resentment; Social processes; Symbolically charged words; Urgency; Waiting on time; White supremacy

Subjects: Freedom; Oppression; Revolutions; Slogans; Symbolism

00:39:20 - The revolution

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Partial Transcript: It's a revolution.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King talks about the revolution of expectations, which is not intended to destroy the American structure.

Keywords: American creed; Changes; Harmony; Hope; Leadership; Opportunity for full participation; Reducing hate; Reducing hatred

Subjects: Expectation (Philosophy); Revolutions; United States

00:42:43 - Assaults in Harlem

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Partial Transcript: Uh, how did you interpret, the assaults on you in Harlem?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. King talks about two assaults on him in Harlem by members of opposing civil rights organizations.

Keywords: "Love the white man."; "Uncle Tomism"; Church; Civil rights organizations; Disagreements; Harlem (N.Y.); Malcolm X; New York (N.Y.); Outnumbered; Poolrooms; Social isolation; Taverns; Unrest

Subjects: Civil rights movements; Middle class; Nonviolence; Poverty; Rejection (Psychology); Violence