Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr

Author:Martin Luther King, Jr.
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Melville House
Published: 2017-01-02T16:00:00+00:00

CONVERSATION WITH MARTIN LUTHER KING

68TH ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE RABBINICAL ASSEMBLY

MARCH 25, 1968

This is a transcript of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s responses to questions, which had been submitted in advance to his interlocutor, Rabbi Everett Gendler.

Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel introduced Dr. King to the assembled rabbis.

HESCHEL: Where does moral religious leadership in America come from today? The politicians are astute, the establishment is proud, and the marketplace is busy. Placid, happy, merry, the people pursue their work, enjoy their leisure, and life is fair. People buy, sell, celebrate, and rejoice. They fail to realize that in the midst of our affluent cities there are districts of despair, areas of distress.

Where does God dwell in America today? Is He at home with those who are complacent, indifferent to other people’s agony, devoid of mercy? Is He not rather with the poor and the contrite in the slums?

Dark is the world for me, for all its cities and stars. If not for the few signs of God’s radiance who could stand such agony, such darkness?

Where in America today do we hear a voice like the voice of the prophets of Israel? Martin Luther King is a sign that God has not forsaken the United States of America. God has sent him to us. His presence is the hope of America. His mission is sacred, his leadership of supreme importance to every one of us.

The situation of the poor in America is our plight, our sickness. To be deaf to their cry is to condemn ourselves.

Martin Luther King is a voice, a vision, and a way. I call upon every Jew to harken to his voice, to share his vision, to follow in his way. The whole future of America will depend upon the impact and influence of Dr. King.

May everyone present give of his strength to this great spiritual leader, Martin Luther King.

KING: I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this evening and to have the opportunity of sharing with you in this significant meeting, but I do want to express my deep personal appreciation to each of you for extending the invitation. It is always a very rich and rewarding experience when I can take a brief break from the day-to-day demands of our struggle for freedom and human dignity and discuss the issues involved in that struggle with concerned friends of goodwill all over our nation. And so I deem this a real and a great opportunity.

Another thing that I would like to mention is that I have heard “We Shall Overcome” probably more than I have heard any other song over the last few years. It is something of the theme song of our struggle, but tonight was the first time that I ever heard “We Shall Overcome” in Hebrew, so that, too, was a beautiful experience for me, to hear that great song in Hebrew.

It is also a wonderful experience to be here on the occasion of the sixtieth birthday of a man that I consider one of the truly great men of our day and age, Rabbi Heschel.



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