A believer in non-violent resistance to racial segregation Wednesday night urged President Kennedy to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Baptist minister who led the successful Negro bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, told an estimated 3,500 persons at the Public Auditorium that “segregation is nothing but slavery covered up with nothing but the niceties of complexities.”
“The hour has come for the President to issue an order bringing an end to all discrimination and basing it on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution,” said Dr. King. “Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order.”
The 32-year-old minister said there is a need for positive faith in the future if the problem of racial discrimination is to be solved.
“There must be people in this nation with a sort of divine content… In the days of guided missiles, it is no longer a choice between non-violence or violence, it is a choice between non-violence and non-existence.”
Dr. King noted that “after 381 days of suffering and sacrifice… buses are now integrated” in Montgomery and Negroes of that city know it is “more honorable to walk in dignity than ride in humiliation.”
He said American [sic] today stands on “the border of the promised land of integration,” but listed these challenges her people must face in the “emerging new order.”
1 – Americans must rise above the narrow confines of their individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
“The world in which we live is a geographic one,” said Dr. King. “The real challenge is to make it a spiritual one. We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.”
2 – American [sic] must get rid of the notion once and for all that there are superior and inferior races.
“If there are lagging standards in the Negro community, they lag because of racial segregation,” he maintained. “It is a torturous argument to use the tragic results of racial segregation as a reason for the continued use of it.”
3 – Americans must continue to move on the path of protests.
“We’ve got to get rid of the myth of time,” said Dr. King. “We must help time and remember that time is always ripe to do right.”
4 – Americans must get rid of the myth of “educational determinism.”
“There is a need for both education and legislation,” said Dr. King. “It may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Legislation can’t make man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me.”
Dr. King advised America’s Negroes to “make full use of the freedoms you possess… never use oppression as an excuse for mediocrity.”
“The greatest challenge to the Negro is to be ready to use the new doors as they open,” he said. “Do a good job and do it well. Do it so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn couldn’t do it better.”
“The job must not be a good Negro job. If you’re are [sic] just going to be a good Negro teacher… you have already flunked your entrance examination to the University of Integration.”
Dr. King said non-violent means of protesting the continuance of racial segregation are needed “to implement decisions already on the books.”
Dr. King was principal speaker at the Urban League of Portland’s Equal Opportunity Day program. Gov. Mark O. Hatfield and Mayor Terry D. Schrunk brought greetings. Entertainment was provided by the Jefferson High School Coie under the direction of Marie C. Lots.
Published in the Oregonian, November 9, 1961.