“Dangerous Optimism”


[“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]




Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hello, there, Patricia, my so, so very dearly special and precious white sisterfriend who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!! I love this grand blog post article of yours and the spectacular excerpt from our Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s enlightening and inspirational speech, sister!!!!!!! I thank-you you, sister, and Katy for this!!!!! I love the perfect title to this magnificent blog post article, ” Dangerous Optimism,” and these very same applicable words by our Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!!!!!! In a way we as a country do very much indeed live in a contradiction because our professed ideals still have not been completely realized. Our very special, precious, and beloved United States of America still has not progressed enough in terms of racial healing, reconciliation, and in eradicating racism, racist inequities, and discrimination, and in the very many other unjust and unfair outcomes we are plagued with as a country. However, I feel and truly believe and think in my very heart, and my very heart, soul, and spirit, sister, that very much progress has been made and that we as a beautiful country with our great USA continue to improve very much so. I know that we as a country and our country’s peoples still do have a ways to go and very far to go but I as the lesbian black woman who I am who so loves and cherishes our United States of America, loving being an American and a citizen of this special country, will For Always love and cherish our very special country, and will never ever give up on our grand country with warts and all, and with all of its imperfections. There are still for certain very many, many great aspects and belovedly precious qualities about our fantastic country, sister!!!!!

    How beautiful and gracious are these words of our late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I, too, like him have an ever present and ever growing hope for our dearly precious, beloved, and special country, and my ardent love for our country will never ever cease!!!!! I love being an American, my precious white sisterfriend who you are For Always very much, Patricia, and I believe and think with all that I have in my very heart, and my very heart,,soul, and spirit that the system does very much indeed work albeit in a very gradual manner, with all of us as a people having to bear witness to this and to be ever patient with the system!!!!! Thank-you so for this great gift and a blessing of this marvelously magnificent and astounding blog post article, Patricia, my white sister!!!!!!

    My white sisterfriend, Patricia, please have a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my white friend, Patricia, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my white sister, and Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always,

    Your Christian lesbian black sisterfriend For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.