King Civil Rights Tactics Newsreel

Doesn’t this raise the question of tactics though? You say, use the word honesty.  You feel that honesty is important here too.   But as a matter of securing for the Negro his rights, do you feel that this assertiveness, this self-assertiveness will get him more in the long run than going along with temporary opinion and biding his time, taking step by step as he goes. 

I think it’s better to be aggressive at this point.  It seems to me that it is both historically and sociologically true that privileged classes do not give up privileges voluntarily, and they do not give them up without strong resistance.  And all of the games that have made that we have received in the area of civil rights have come about because the Negro stood up courageously for these rights and he was willing to aggressively press on. 

So I would think that it would be much better in the long run to stand up and be aggressive with understanding goodwill and with a sense of discipline yet these things should not be substitutes for pressing on and with this aggressive attitude I believe that we will bring the gains or other civil rights into being much sooner than we would just standing idly by waiting for these things to be given voluntarily. 

What about the ill will that’s generated by the aggressiveness, certainly your own experience in Montgomery.  You’ve been their target of bomb attacks; you’ve been their target of verbal and other kinds of violence.  What about the ill will that is generated by aggressiveness.  Well I think that is the necessary phase of the transition.  Whenever oppressed people stand up for their rights and rise up against their oppressor so to speak, the initial response of the oppressor is bitterness.  That is true in most cases I think and that what we are now experiencing in the South is this initial response of bitterness that I hope will be transformed into a more brotherly attitude. 

We hope that the end will be redemption and reconciliation rather than division.  But this it seems to me is a necessary phase of the transition from the old order of segregation and discrimination to the new order of freedom and justice.  And this should not last forever and it’s just something that’s natural right now and as soon as we pass out of the shock period into the more creative period of adjustment I think that bitterness and ill-will will pass away.  This sounds in a sense to be, if I may say this, in a sense to be a denial of the judicial process saying we will work – the judicial process doesn’t allow for the violent activity, the aggressiveness and it means in a sense stepping outside.  Not outside the law but outside that slow step-by-step process that has been going on in the courts. 

Do you think, for instance, that the courts would have been moved to action that would have taken the place of your boycott in Montgomery had you not acted.  Do you think there could be a substitute for that kind of action I think not; I think it was necessary to do it, I think it was – the time was right and I don’t think there could have been a substitute at that particular time.



Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. ~ ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.