[“Rainbow Fountain,” Bryant College, Smithfield, R.I.]
This week, rather than writing something, myself, I’d like to share this wonderful and poignant excerpt from a speech Martin Luther King, Jr. gave at Bennett College, Greensboro, NC, in 1958.
After reading another piece I’d written recently that referenced Dr. King’s “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” my friend Katy sent this excerpt along. She had transcribed the entire speech when working at Boston University—Dr. King’s alma mater. Katy is responsible for the ADDED EMPHASIS.
“…This [after acknowledging that a lot of progress in civil rights had been made] would be a wonderful place to stop–be a great place to stop. But I’m afraid, if I stopped here, I wouldn’t be telling the truth, I’d be stating a fact. YOU SEE A FACT IS MERELY THE ABSENCE OF CONTRADICTION BUT TRUTH IS THE PRESENCE OF COHERENCE. IT IS THE RELATEDNESS OF FACTS. [laughter, then applause] You see it’s a fact that we’ve come a long, long way—that’s a fact—but it isn’t the truth. You see in order to tell the truth, you’ve got to go on and put the other parts in. If I stopped at this point, I would leave you the victims of a dangerous optimism. If I stopped at this point, I would leave you the victims of an illusion wrapped in superficiality. So in order to tell the truth, I must move on [laughter], say clearly that we’ve not only come a long, long way [applause]–so I must say that we’ve not only come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go….” [emphasis added]