Martin Luther King: Saturating The Thinking of Poor White Masses | Racism & White Supremacy on Blog#42

A Relevant Quote from Martin Luther King on Jim Crow

Given what our nation is currently undergoing, this portion of King’s speech at Selma serves as a searing reminder that we’ve been through this before and have yet to do what we must in order to truly address the root causes.

“If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. (Yes, sir) He gave him Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, (Yes, sir) he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. (Right sir) And he ate Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. (Yes, sir) And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, (Speak) their last outpost of psychological oblivion. (Yes, sir)”

To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.”

Martin Luther King, 1965, Selma

4 thoughts on “Martin Luther King: Saturating The Thinking of Poor White Masses | Racism & White Supremacy on Blog#42”

  1. My soul cries for an education in this. On election night, I finally heard the words he spoke differently. I understand them differently. As a result, I am persuaded that it is my purpose in life no less, to work tirelessly on this issue.

    But I’m white. I’m learning from scratch. The ground is shifting beneath my feet as I walk. Thank you for bringing these words to the comments section of a New York Times opinion piece by Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Thank you for this blog.

    1. Thanks so much for leaving a comment, Renee! I have found much comfort and intellectual nourishment in the writings of James Baldwin and the speeches of MLK. I have put up some excerpts on my blog. They’re tagged so you should be able to find them using the search box above. I often use quotes by them in my writings.

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