As we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this day set aside for his honor, it’s clear that Dr. King believed racial integration was the only path forward for America to thrive.
“The history of the movement reveals that Negro-white alliances have played a powerfully constructive role, especially in recent years,” Dr. King wrote in his 1967 book “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” the last book he published before his assassination. “While Negro initiative, courage and imagination precipitated the Birmingham and Selma confrontations and revealed the harrowing injustice of segregated life, the organized strength of Negroes alone would have been insufficient to move Congress and the administration without the weight of the aroused conscience of white America. In the period ahead, Negroes will continue to need this support … The American Negro is not in a Congo where the Belgians will go back to Belgium after the battle is over, or in an India where the British will go back to England after independence is won. In the struggle for national independence one can talk about liberation now and integration later, but in the struggle for racial justice in a multiracial society, where the oppressor and the oppressed are both ‘at home,’ liberation must come through integration.”
Dr. King also wrote in his Chaos or Community book about the powerful influence of exceptional leaders–what he called a “creative minority”–to move society forward.
“The hope of the world is still in dedicated minorities,” Dr. King wrote. “The trail blazers in human, academic, scientific and religious freedom have always been in the minority. That creative minority of whites absolutely committed to civil rights can make it clear to the larger society that vacillation and procrastination on the question of racial justice can no longer be tolerated.”
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Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.