A full-page ad in the New York Times on Tuesday contained these words spoken by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in March 1965 in Selma, Alabama:
“The only way we can really achieve freedom is to somehow hunker the fear of death. But if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live. Deep down in our nonviolent creed is the conviction—-that there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36 years old, as I happen to be, some great truth stands before the door of his life—-some great opportunity to stand for that which is right and that which is just. And he refuses to stand up because he wants to live a little longer, and he’s afraid his home will get bombed, or he’s afraid that he will lose his job, or he’s afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers. He may go on to live until he’s 80. He’s just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80. And the cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of spirit. He died.
”A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.
”So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas!
”We’re going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!”
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I quote the whole passage, which probably is not the whole speech and may well have been extemporaneous. The ad was paid for by Team ROC (see https://www.weareteamroc.com).
The passage is NOT from the better known “How Long? Not Long” speech, which King delivered on March 25, 1965, at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march. The whole of that speech is at https://www.mlkonline.net/our god.html and it is well worth reading carefully.
Among the many parts of it that jump out at the reader is this:
”How long? Not long, because ‘no lie can live forever.’”
— Mark Channing Miller