This is a transcript of the first half of Dr. King’s speech to NATRA. August, 1967, Atlanta, Georgia.
“Thank you very kindly. Mr. Chairman, members of this very fine organization the National Association of TV and Radio Announcers, distinguished dais guests, ladies and gentlemen. I may now pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this evening and to share with you in your annual convention. I must apologize, in the very beginning, for being late tonight and for holding you up. I flew in today from San Francisco where I had to address the National Association of Real Estate Brokers last evening, and after a rather long and tiring flight, I found myself with endless appointments and endless paperwork to do because the tenth annual convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will open in this very hotel on Monday evening and I have the responsibility of doing a lot of paperwork and I have the responsibility of doing a lot of paperwork in order to get ready for that convention and a lot of last minute things came up that I did not anticipate. And I certainly appreciate your patience and your kindness and your willingness to wait.
I’m indeed grateful to Bother Jones for these very kind and gracious words of introduction. As he introduced me, I felt something like the old maid who had never been married, and one day she went to work and the lady for whom she worked said “Ann, I hear you’re going to get married.” She said “no, I’m not going to get married, but thank God for the rumor!” Now I know that all these marvelous things that have been said about me can’t be true but thank God for the rumor.
I value this special opportunity to address you this evening for in my years of struggle, both north and south, I have come to appreciate the role which the radio announcer plays in the life of our people. For better or for worse, you are opinion-makers in the community and it is important that you remain aware of the power which is potential in your vocation. The masses are almost totally dependent on the radio as their means of relating to the society at large. They do not read newspapers, [skip] through Jet (laughter) to their needs, but to upper class America, one only need recall the Watts tragedy, and the quick adoption of the “burn, baby, burn” slogan.[skip] influence of the radio announcer on the community. But while the establishment was quick to blame the tragedy of Watts most unjustly on the slogan of Magnificent Montague, It has not been ready to acknowledge all of the positive features which grow out of your contribution to the community. No one knows the importance of Tall Paul White and the massive non-violent demonstrations of the youth of Birmingham in 1963. All the funds raised by Purvis Span (?) for the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 or the consistent fundraising and voter education done for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the civil rights movement by Georgia Wood, my good friend from Philadelphia.
Tonight I want to say thank you , not just to these few, but to all of you who have given leadership to our people in thousands of unknown and unsung ways. We certainly would not have come so far without your support. In a real sense, you have paved the way for social and political change by creating a powerful cultural bridge between Black and white. School integration is much easier now that they share a common music, a common language, and enjoy the same dances. You introduced youth to that music, and created the language of soul and promoted the dance which now sweeps across race, class, and nation. It is quite amazing to me, to hear the joyful rhythms which I found time to enjoy, as a youth here in Atlanta, years ago, coming back across the Atlantic with an English accent [laughter], or to see the Senator Javitz and the Senator Kennedy lost in the dances which we created. Yes, you have taken the power which Old Sam had buried deep in his soul, and through our amazing technology, performed a cultural conquest that surpasses even Alexander The Great and the culture of classical Greece.
But my brothers and my sisters, we’re only beginning. We still have a long, long way to go, and I would like to share with you the burden on my heart about the problems which still confront us. And If I would use a subject for what I would like to say to you this evening, I would call it Transforming a Neighborhood Into a Brotherhood. And I want to try to tell you the truth tonight. I want to speak honestly and frankly about many problems that we face in our nation and that we face in the world, for American needs to hear the truth at this time, and I still believe that freedom is the bonus you receive for telling the truth. As Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Transforming a neighborhood into a brotherhood. Now there can be no gains … of the fact that America has brought the nation and the world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. We’ve built machines that think and built machines that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space.
End of part I. Click –> Martin Luther King’s speech to NATRA,1967 (second half)