Monday, January 15, 2007

"How long? Not long."

As we look in fear at the prospect of at least two more years of bloodshed in Iraq and possibly the region, we can take heart from these stirring words from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the end of the march from Selma to Montgomery on March 25, 1965. The speech (the full text is available here) was delivered on the steps of the Alabama state capitol building:
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because "truth crushed to earth will rise again."
How long? Not long, because "no lie can live forever."
How long? Not long, because "you shall reap what you sow."
How long? Not long:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above his own.
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Dr. King's confidence of eventual victory was remarkable given the events that led the marchers to Montgomery that day. The first attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery was met with force from Alabama state troopers. (John Lewis, now a member of Congress, was beaten by the troopers.) The marchers reached Montgomery only with the protection of federal troops.
Stanford has
a collection of King's most notable speeches. The definitive collection of King's speeches and writings is A Testament of Hope, published by HarperCollins. Amazon.com has new and used copies for sale. If you want to know what he thought, read what he had to say.

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