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An hour the national educational radio network presents a special of the week from WKRN Michigan State University Radio. Mrs. Caruthers Scott King speaking in East Lansing on the third anniversary of her husband's death. My boo to King Jr. worked and ultimately gave his life for oppressed people so that they might enjoy the opportunity to attain their fullest potential. In 1955 when my husband accepted the leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott our demands were a very simple one. We said we would rather walk in dignity than ride in humiliation. We were joined in our efforts by thousands across the sour who were also tired of the stings and barbs of Jim Crow and segregation. A federal court or or another fide segregation on public carriers. However for Americans disinherited blacks and in
1956 black people in all sections of America were disinherited. This was only the beginning of a long odd years struggle to gain a legitimate and heritance. And later in the lecture I will say more about the nonviolent struggle in the south. For too many centuries the inherent racism that has permeated our nation has also stultified the growth of America's minorities. Yes. Some white minorities have overcome the blatant racist attitudes that greeted them when they arrived on the shores. But at this moment in our nation's history too many minority members not just blacks but the American Indians the Chicanos Spanish speaking citizens and the Appalachian School
all of them minorities all oppressed and suffering from malnutrition of opportunity a malady which has impeded their personal growth and a malady which has dissipated America's human and material resources. So our Center for Urban Affairs which makes development its focal point is providing an immeasurable a valuable service to the recipients. The community and the nation. This is an exciting time to be alive. Many parent persons despair at the repression which is rampant in our country. Many persons are disillusioned over the recession which isn't golfing our country. All those are embedded by the denial of opportunity that forces them to sublimates their
ambitions. Others are disenchanted with apparent futile efforts to achieve peace in the world. Some are extremely some extremely sensitive individuals are hurt by the violence which pervades our society. And the mayor frustration of daily living has so overwhelmed many persons that they have withdrawn from society. I am more up from where you have been macula they have copped out. But behind these dismal signs I see a bright beam of hope because we you and I can eliminate the causes of the turbulence and despair because we can eliminate the frustration the causes of prostration and disillusionment.
And because you and I have the power to bring into the world lasting peace because we you and I can make this world free of violence because we have the power to make of this old world a new world. Because we have unlimited power for good. I say this is indeed an exciting time to be alive. We have the power in our possession. My question is what uses will we make of the awesome and frightening procession. 20 years ago I could not have said that it is within our power to feed all the hungry of the world. Twenty years ago I could not have said that it is within our power to clothe all the unclothed of the world. Twenty years ago I could not have said that it is within our power to how's
that you old homes. But in 1971 we have the power to do what people of past generations only dreamed of doing. So this afternoon I should like for you to think with me on the subject. The social mission of the university in contemporary society. The oldest university in this country celebrated its tri Centennial 35 years ago. Yet in the past two years I stayed very down about how long the capstone of American education has had to justify its right to exist more vigorously than in all the previous years of its history. I mention Harvard because of its age. However that respected and renowned renowned sort of bell of learning has
not been the only institution of higher learning asked to justify its existence not only in America but across the world. Students have asked what right have you to be from Japan to France from Italy to end the year from New York to California. Students have asked what right have you to exist. Sometimes the question has been asked and righteous indignation. Sometimes it has been asked in student faculty confrontation sometimes. And this is most deplorable it has been ask and violence. But whatever whatever form the question has taken. It has been framed out of frustration. It has been framed out of anger that young lawyers are wantonly wasted by our involvement
in a senseless war. It has been framed out of a quest for answers to no longer unanswerable questions whatever form the question has taken. It has been framed out of an earnest and sincere desire to have the university believe rather than see or appear to be. The former concept of a university is safely nestled away from the world is obsolete today when to exist means to be involved. Unlike the football a basketball player who sits on the bench until he is called into the game. Universities can no longer sit on the sidelines of life. What for North Carolina students who day Add Remove the Declaration of Independence of the United States from its class and case matter and
make it what it was drafted to be a pattern for a living was brought rubro old and courageous when they sat in after lunch counters and refused to move until they were served there on precedented actions quickly spread to students throughout the South who were in the confines of the classroom were being taught their rights. But in the arena of economic justice what did not the practice of their rights. Not only were they taught that all men are created equal but they learn that all men are in dialogue by they are created Torah with certain unalienable rights among them these among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How ironic that a university should have courses in which students are taught what their rights are and that same university then expels also spends and worst of all black males the students who decide to make their rights a way of life.
Were it not for the coalition formed by students and the nonviolent movement as led by my late husband. Riots spread chaos disillusionment and violence would have resulted from the student sit ins in the early 60s. But rise in their simplicity and firm in their belief that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States why intended to be more than mere words on paper. These young. Intrepid students were not daunted by threats of intent and intimidation nor were they stymied by resultant wholesale expulsions. On the other hand their efforts were redoubled because they knew there was something wrong with the society which had guidelines for its citizens but said to what tenth of its citizens. Re these guidelines were not intended
for you. Study them learn them but don't expect to live by them. A decade earlier similar efforts would have been thwarted two decades earlier questions would have been raised. What no one would have been bold enough to raise them outside the classroom. Three decades earlier they would not have been raised outside the dormitory. But times have changed. The questions had been asked and there would be no quailing. They were asked a loud and clear neither mass arrest brutal violence perpetrated against them and fellow hurtle at them nor threats and intimidations would stifle their lawful descends. American
history was undergirding their rights since their earliest exposure to the history of America. They had learned that a small but determined band of colonists had staged one of the country's most celebrated parties. The Boston Tea Party this December 16 1773 raid on three British ships became a prototype for protests. So is it any wonder that young men and women who had been taught for 12 or more years to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America should become dissatisfied with the inconsistency of the words and the pledge and their application today and they haven't. Encouraged by the young president of the United States John F. Kennedy whose words Ask not what America will do for you but what
together we can do for the freedom of man. Students across the nation began to get involved in the plight of the set eyes in the South became the concern of students in the north. Students whose whole rhizomes have not extended beyond the painting of the greedy and moving into some look at the cooperation position as if answering a clarion call Northern students trekked south and join the sit ins to work for the freedom of man bright intelligent idealistic students who had looked for your aid in the wraps of Upolu and joined the Peace Corps to work for the freedom of man. Others finding a domestic venture more attractive join the St.. A new awareness a new consciousness
a new concept of freedom had been aroused in the students. Colonialism was losing its grip on Africa emerging African nations were serfs suffering birth pains. But students that mighty Legion of the most intelligent best trained and most articulate young generation that this nation has to produce to discern our reality and what Martin Luther King Jr. said and I quote. All life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directory affects all interactively and the quote. Thus disdain and refusing the corporation positions these young rebels were soon to be found in nearly every corner of the globe.
Including some of the most remote and underdeveloped areas of the United States. Building roads building irrigation. Building hospitals building schools and yes even building homes would not satisfy. The volunteers. More permanent than any of these was the development of human dignity and the infusion of the spirit of somebody's ness which would enable deprived peoples around the world to become self-sufficient. From a negative a passive role the universities began to assume a more positive active posture. Let me hasten to say however many universities had to be prodded. They sequestered in their own narrow provincial average tower and did not want to become involved. They wanted to remain on the sidelines but
the students said no you must be relevant and relevant say demands and involvement. Therefore we began to see massive assaults on poverty in the hopes of Americas 40 million poor were raised because students joined in the war on poverty. They took basketballs on their expertise which they have learned so well. They took these from the classrooms to the get homes go home come out mix majors worked with the poor teaching them how to use surplus food and economic mages work with the poor teaching them how to plan the budget. Political science majors worked with the poor teaching them the art of nonviolent demonstration to obtain their lawful inheritance the right to register and to vote. Meanwhile back at the university his discontent was seized and the oppression which students were fighting and one
form during the family was rearing its head in another form during the winter. Dialogue or confrontation became the question. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said. I think that as life is action and passion it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived. Universities which subscribe to the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes moved swiftly to dialog those which rejected the idea became hopeless victims of serious and violent confrontations. But there was no turning back. The dreams of those working for the freedom of man had then turned into nightmares by
America's escalation of a war against a tiny Southeast Asian country be a domestic programs were blighted from the development of people's return to the death and destruction of a people struggling as we did almost two centuries ago by independence. They simply asked that they probably be permitted to be born to suffer growing pains and reach maturity as nations across the centuries had done what America the world's advisor wouldn't permit this. She said we'll intervene. We know the way therefore we will become a catalyst to you know grow. You know you do not have to experience the pain of Bro. We can provide instant growth and you will become a mother to our responsible nation. We have a war on poverty but we can reduce our efforts and spend fifty three dollars per person for each person
classified as poor. However we will spend three hundred twenty two thousand dollars for each enemy we kill. What a strange dichotomy that. Thank. You. Peace and Development were no longer priorities but death and destruction. I am pleased this afternoon that I can say again students that youth of on nation began leading the way. Having learned to think seriously and critically about important issues these young people rebelled against the AWC notion of war. They range significant questions about hunger in the world.
While America boldly destroyed the all important rice fields and Vietnam. Trained in chemistry and prepared to use that science for development. Students revolted against the use of deadly napalm which rendered its victims totally helpless. Burning them into unspeakably grotesque shapes having witness stand participated and the peaceful nonviolent demonstrations which culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 legions of young people many of them now supported by college administrators formed coalitions with established peace groups and in the fall of 1969 stage two of the largest demonstrations for peace that this country has ever seen. Regrettably the present administration was insensitive and unresponsive to the police of the thousands who marched in peaceful
protest against the war. 10 months ago the administration expanded the war in Indochina and I gained stand authority on cries of protests again mute reception from the administration. Yes I still say it is an exciting time to be alive. It is exciting because I still say that we can use our collective powers. And effect meaningful social change the forces for good Lord are finally being brought together as never before in the history of America before 1970 ended. America's gross national product had reached almost a trillion dollars.
How ironic that this call for celebration should be accompanied by an increase in the nation's poor. Reversing the downward trend which began in the 60s is an estimated one in 110 million Americans join the ranks of poverty there by bringing the total to 25 and 710 million. They're launching Lehi increase in welfare recipients is directly attributable to the administration's calloused indifference about the recession that has gripped us all. And two New York counties welfare cases increased by 30 and 17 percent from January 1970 to December 1970. Persons Represented in these cases are not indolent apathetic Dolson because they are stable family men and women victimized by the recession and forced to accept whatever pitons off a check they can
receive. The social mission of the university. And contemporary society demands that you join the alliance that is working for the freedom of man. You have the resources you have the expertise you have the power. Do you have the will university medical facilities always among the finest in staff and equipment to be found anywhere. Do universities make these facilities available to the end of the chronic chronically ill the incurably ill. All these facilities reserved for the affluent. And short term outpatient care and the continuing expansion programs which displaced people destroy communities and rob children the play areas. Is there consideration given to developing a model relocations.
How in Congress to see the well-kept campus of a university surrounded by the decay deterioration and blight of urban America. Do nutrition experts leave their cloistered surroundings and take their knowledge to sacristan boardrooms of the 500 major United States corporations. Or do they take their expertise to migrant workers of California. The poor of Appalachia. Ah the undernourished of the in a sort of ghetto. The quest to free man from the score a job with the scorer's of poverty. And thus corage of racism should be the social mission of the university in contemporary society. We have not been serious about our mission but we are now faced with
a moral imperative which demands that we use our knowledge our human resources our natural resources our skills and our good judgment to give new direction to our lives. All historians will recall that in the last three decades of the 20th century there lived a wise but foolish nation that gained the world but lost its soul. The. One they send that's stored on the sidelines while the great problems of the world went on saw. A nation that talked democracy abroad but practiced hypoxia at home with the. A nation that by presidential order swiftly allocated billions
for death and destruction. What took years to allocate to neuronal spawn for light and development. Finally unless we take a new direction historians will recall that there are little done nation a nation that produced a wise man. A man was beyond his years. A man who begged his nation to give moral leadership to the world. But this nation sick with violence sickness and racism sick with class hatred and sick with a war complex. The nation this man. Warn them beg to change your ways. That nation cut him
down on April 4th 1968 in a climate of violence. A climate he did stained and spent his life trying to change and that nation which could have taken a place among the great nations of the world decreed its own timely banishing to oblivion the wonderful and glorious opportunities that were bestowed upon it. Historians could lead such a record but I'm confident today that because there's a Michigan State University a caring concerned and the twosome historians will write the ballet of the nation that stubbornly refused to do what was right. What the people are bad nation refuse to let it die. And they'd know manias death. Let me warn you carrying out the social mission of the
university and contemporary society will not be easy. What I said I also like to challenge you and the words of a great Indian poet to go up who wrote if and not to die. Walk Alone if they are afraid income will mutilate face in the wall or opened my mind and speak out alone. If they turn away and desert you when crossing the wilderness or. Trample the bones under the I tread and along the bloodline track if they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with stone cold I will let the thunder flame of pain ignite Dian own heart and let it alone.
Thank you. Mrs. Coretta Scott King speaking in East Lansing on the third anniversary of the death of her husband and they are as special of the week. Thanks WKRN Michigan State radio for the recording of these remarks. This is an hour of the national educational radio network.
Special of the week
Issue 23-71 Coretta Scott King
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 23-71 Coretta Scott King,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
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APA: Special of the week; Issue 23-71 Coretta Scott King. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from