Monday, January 17, 2022

Well Timed

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.  For years now I have heard the word "wait."  It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity.  This "wait" has almost always meant "never."  It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration.  We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."  We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights.  The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.  I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." 

-- Martin Luther King Jr. (15 January 1929 - 4 April 1968), American Baptist minister and activist, "Letter from Birmingham City Jail", an open letter written on 16 April 1963

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