tv Reel America Martin Luther King Press Conference CSPAN January 14, 2023 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
week american history tv's america brings you archival that help provide context for today's public affairs issues. next from july 15, 1963. reverend martin king jr is interviewed by. journalists from ghana, india and south carolina. it's an of the u.s. information agency program press conference usa which featured journalists from around the questioning. a well-known public figure. martin luther king is to explain his nonviolent approach civil rights, to comment on president kennedy's civil rights bill and to describe how he has been influenced by mahatma gandhi. u.s. information agency films distributed internationally, but by law they could not be shown in the united states until 12 years after the original release. this is about 30 minutes to capture the sacrificial.
conference. usa discussion program, which well-known correspondents question a leading personality the news. our guest is the reverend dr. martin luther king. to introduce our guest, the panel of correspondents here is robert lodge, the moderator of press conference. welcome to the press conference usa. our guest, the reverend dr. martin luther king, became spokesman and leader -- in the southern united states at the unusually early age 27. it was during a bus boycott in montgomery, alabama, which resulted in integrated -- and whites riding by side. later, as head of the southern christian leadership conference, he turned his attention to desegregation of restaurants and other public facilities. and he has played a leading role getting -- registered to vote an
important step in achieving equal rights. now, at the age of 34, dr. king, a baptist minister, married and the father of four children, has become a symbol of the struggle to end racial segregation here in the united states. to interview him, we have a panel of distinguished correspondents, an african and asian and a southern newspaperman who wrote the book, the case for south. gentlemen, would you identify yourselves. this is george and for the united nations, correspond indent for the ghana news agency. this is william workman of columbia, south carolina, associate editor of the state newspaper. this is david parrish from washington, correspondent. well, you did express the group of newspapers. now we will begin our questioning with mr. potter. sharon dr. king, this year,
1963. is, i suppose, going to be a decisive year the struggle of the -- race for, equality in this country. i wonder whether you could tell us what has been achieved so far this year and what your immediate goals are going to be. so far this year have seen many cities and the southern part of the united states desegregate public facilities as a result of the mass demonstrations that have taken place of various sit ins movements. and so for. and i. this will continue. it seems to me probably now than ever before we stand on the threshold of very significant breakthrough in civil rights in the united states. and i think we have a good chance get strong meaningful
civil rights legislation in and if this legislation is enacted and implemented we will go a long long toward making the american dream a reality, i do not think civil legislation will solve all of the problems that we now face and it will not bring about integration in all of its dimensions. but i do think it will solve problems and i think it will bring about many of the which we seek in this struggle. mr. workman. dr. king will use out your conception of civil rights, which to me means those rights which are prescribed by statute or by constitution, not those which go to the social contract or to the commerce of the ordinary marketplace marketplace. well, i would think of civil rights, as those basic rights
that are guaranteed by the constitution and on the basis of the first and the 14th amendment. i think there is a distinction between social privilege on one hand and civil rights on the other. it is one thing to say who will sit in my living room as a friend and as a guest is another thing to say. who will sit beside on the bus or in a public place? i think at that point of violation is a violation of civil, i think. and the first instance i have the choice determine who will a guest in my house. and i think all public facilities should be open to all citizen citizens without regard to race, nationality religion. now, about public facilities, i take it you include privately owned facilities and.
make those public. yes i would include private facilities at our publ. declare sustained and dependent on the very public for their survival. i'm not speaking of one's home again, but i speaking of in a business that is in the public market and that is dependent on the public for its survival. and also that is a license by the state by its very operation and its very existence. you then would deny it to the proprietor, the right to select that portion of the public to whom you wanted to cater? yes, it's on the basis of race. i think you ought to have the right to keep drunk people out. i think you ought to have the right to keep people who are not in the proper disposition as far as their manners are concerned. but i do not think any proprietor should have the right to deny a person access to the
facilities of his particular business because of race. i think a business should have rights, but he must also see that business is not only a right, it is a privilege and responsibility. and if by such admission he were to lose his white patronage and out of business, that would be acceptable in view. well, again, i don't think our nation can ever rise to its full maturity until businesses come to see that. no individuals should be denied service because of race. i do not think this will lead to a exodus on the part of white customers. this has been demonstrated over and over and in the struggle for civil rights. many cities, in fact, more than hundred and 75 cities in the south have integrated their
lunch counters and other facilities. 1960. and on the whole, businesses have increased in terms of their income rather than decreased and think this will continue to be. but i do not that one should denies to members of another race because there are some individuals who threaten to withdraw their service is if the facilities integrate. mr. end for dr. king. president kennedy's proposed rights bill. now, the congress has been described in certain quarters as far reaching. on the other hand, other people choose to describe it. so very inhuman and sadistic
especially in the words of georgia state senator russell few days ago. could you care to comment on? the president's proposed legislation before congress. i would say that this is very strong, a far reaching bill. certainly, it is the strongest bill that has ever been presented by. any president of our nation. this does not mean that it has everything in it that i would like to see for it. and for instance, had hoped that a federal fair employment practice bill would have been submitted with the president to bill and some other things such giving the attorney general the right to initiate in any area where there is a denial of civil
rights wherein this bill only calls for the attorney general having the right to initiate suits in area of school desegregation. but where these points, i think by and large, it is a strong and forthright bill. now, i would have to disagree with the honorable senator of state of georgia, which happens to be my state, when he says this is an inhuman, sinister bill. i think, on the contrary it is in line with the deepest principle of our america and democracy. and i think it really carries with it all of the deep insights of the democratic ideal as well as the american dream, deep, rather, one of the basic things in our country is the declaration of independence
which speaks of the fact that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. and i don't think these things can be and real until all of citizens of our country are guaranteed that basic civil and constitutional rights. and i think this bill is in line with declaration of independence and, the constitution. and i think will carry our whole nation back to those great ends and those great principles if it is enacted and implemented. dr. king senator russell has and others have said that the patterns of the past cannot be changed overnight, that whites cannot change attitudes. for instance, fast as -- would like them to change them. how do you answer that
statement? i think we are dealing with two matters here. on the one hand, we are dealing with the problem of grappling with behavior and, controlling behavior. on the other hand, we are dealing with changing attitudes. and i quite agree that, attitudes are not often changed overnight. and in this sense it be true that you cannot legislate moral. but while it is true, morality cannot legislated. we must we must see the other side. and that is that behavior can be regulated. the law may not change the heart, but it can restrain the. and i. it is an immoral posture to hold the position that individuals, whether they be or members of other minority groups should
have, that constitution and god given rights held up until some misguided individuals are able to change that attitude, i think, by changing the system itself, we are often able to make it easier for individuals to change attitudes. and i think by bringing desegregation into being, it will cause many people who are slow to change their attitudes, move to the point of, changing their attitudes easier than would otherwise. well, -- constitute, about 1/10 of the united states populace. do you think that they can achieve equal rights without the goodwill or agreement of the white majority? or in other words, don't you your task primarily that of one to pursue asian. yes. i think this is very basic, but i wouldn't say it's only
persuasion. i see it as both persuasion and legislature and all that goes along with that. both persuasion, moral coercion. i think it is quite true that. if we had to have an integrated society must come by a change of the heart through persuasion. on the other hand, i think you can legislate desegregation. i think that the if not hearts of men have been and are being changed every day by judicial decrees, executive orders from the president and by acts. so that you cannot legislate integration, but you can certainly legislate desegregation. and there is a difference between the two. mr. annan. for dr. king, in your reply to the letter of, eight alabama clergymen, i think of about the
april 16th or so you, i think, criticized the attitude of the white moderates, as you put it, and the church. and you said that if the church of today did not recapture the spirit of the early church, it would lose its authentic ring of forfeit, the loyalty of its villains and be dismissed as irrelevant and social club with no meaning for the 20th century. could you expand on this? the light of the role played by the church or extension of the church? us moral and persuasive authority in the -- movement towards equality. i think i have to honestly admit in the past the church has not stood up in this area as it
should stand up at this point. i think the church has failed miserably. the church has so often been the tail light. instead the headlight and we must face the tragic fact that 11:00 on sunday morning, when thousands of christians all over the united states stand to sing and cry and say is no east or west. we stand in the most segregated out of america. i think this is appalling and yet we must face it as a fact of of our nation. on the other hand, i think i must say that some very encouraging things have developed within the last few. i mean, encouraging developments within the church. church groups now taking kind of forthright stand that i have
long to see as a minister the gospel. the protestant rather than national council of churches came out just three weeks ago with with a very strong calling not only for an end segregation as they pronounce, but calling for its various dynamic and ministers to participate in and direct action to end segregation. the same thing has developed within the roman catholic church and very strong pronouncement have come from the various councils. many of the rabbis as have come out so that i see a new development in the church which a very significant development and to my mind a new beacon light of hope and i think the
church now is moving on in the way that it should move and it is making its witness clear. mr. pastor. dr. king, what what extent have a pattern particular movement on the spiritual ways by mr. gandhi in india. and to what extent is the struggle of the american -- part of the worldwide movement for freedom. well, the opposition people was, after all basically an african people settle down in the united states states the times of the part of the question first i would say that our movement here in the united states is in a real sense a part of a worldwide struggle to break the barriers of injustice and. it is not in isolated or detached struggle, but it is a part this worldwide struggle
for, freedom and human dignity. now, in the first part of the question, i would say that our movement has been after the gandhian movement in india, a great deal. i have been influenced by mahatma gandhi a great deal. and i think this is true of many, many people in the movement in the united states. some years ago, when i first studied the gandhian philosophy and method of nonviolent resistance. i came to the conclusion that it was the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity and would say that this overall direct action movement with its ins and its stand ins, it's the way it ends, its nil in, its mass marches and pilgrimages and all of the other
elements, that end of the struggle have been pattern a great deal after, gandhi. now there are certain there's some sociological and that in the united we are a numerical minority facing the opposition of. many individuals form a numerical majority. when in india it was the other way around. the other is that we are struggling far integration when in india was a struggle for independence and there a difference. and one instance you are seeking to gain freedom from a foreign invader. and the other instance you are seeking to to a new adjustment, the kind of integrated brotherly with a very people who in the same situation and pressing you to follow that up so that when you succeed in your struggle, this is not an anti-white movement, but it is really to
fulfill the american dream of the purpose of declared independence. in other words, the united states will be a better place to live in, not only for the --, but also for the white people. very definitely i can this struggle not as a to free 20 million -- in the united states, but a struggle to. 180 million citizens of this country. and i don't think anybody in country can be truly free until the -- is free and i certainly don't think the white man is free as long as you have segregation and discrimination, the festering sore of segregation debilitates a white man as well as a --. and this is why i say that our aim in this struggle is not to defeat or to humiliate the white man, but win his friendship and, understanding and the end is
reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community. we are not seeking to annihilate the opponent, but to convert him. and this is why we follow nonviolence. think the end of violence to get rid of, to annihilate the opponent. but in the non-vr movement, the end is to convert the opponent and to bring about a society where all will live together as brothers, every man to respect the dignity and, worth of human personality. mr. workman, do i understand you, doctor, to mean that you would have then brotherhood by federal force through those people who are not willing to engage in what you would consider to be brotherhood? no, i don't mean you would have brother by federal force. i don't think you can really have true brotherhood by a federal force. i do think, though, that you break down the legal and the
external. and the man made barriers that make brotherhood impossible by federal force. in other words, don't think you're going to have brotherhood as long as there is a system of racial segregation. now, i do feel that this can be broken down by federal force. now, when you move to the realm of true brotherhood, a true integration, which genuine intergroup interpersonal living, mutual acceptance. then we move into another realm altogether. and i don't think this can be done by federal force, but i that these barriers can be broken and it can bring us nearer to the goal. if the president's program were incorporated or such portions over it would lend themselves to this. how would you feel about submitting this to vote of the people of the united states who have never really had an opportunity to express
themselves in this area? well, this is going to be all right with me, because i think the vast of people in the united states would vote favorably for such a bill. think the tragedy is that we have, a congress, a senate that has a minority of misguide, added senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting. they won't let the majority of senators vote and certainly they wouldn't want the majority of people vote because they know they do not represent the majority of the american people. in fact, they represent in their own states a very small minority. senator eastland of mississippi represents a very small minority. the number of people who live that state. and i think this is true all across the south. but is not this part of the american system? and then you would, in effect,
change the system so that there would be dictation from executive office rather than legislation under the present system representation. well, is the system, but it is not applied. so many southern states that is take the state of mississippi as an example. you have about 20,000 -- registered to vote. the state of mississippi. now, many of these people are not because all types conniving methods are still being to keep -- becoming registered voters. and in fact, some are even killed. seeking to lead voter registry drives so that the democrat process is not operative in such a way. sounds like mississippi and alabama. so many of the other states, southern states where there is this determined effort to keep from becoming registered voters. well, let me say this, that if
the right to vote, which is a basic civil right, is prescribed both by the constitution and by statute, i think there can be no one to impede that. but i'm confused over what you turn to be basic constitutional rights, which would give the federal government authority to direct private business under what section of the constitution would you say that could be done? well, i think it could be done under several sections, but i would like to see it on the 14th amendment, which says that no state has a right to deny an individ equal protection of the law. and every state has a responsibility, has the authority to these businesses licenses to operate. and the fact that this is done by the state means these businesses at that moment forfeit the right to with individuals any way they please, must be under the scrutiny and under the direction of federal authority on the basis of the
14th amendment of the constitution. well, an extension of that, then, would mean that all of us who are licensed to drive automobiles would come within the state scrutiny for whatever purpose which the state's hand extends everywhere you see. oh, yes it did. it extends everywhere where basic human constitutional rights are involved. and i am absolutely convinced that there is something wrong with nation that would put property rights, human rights. and i think states should have rights. but no should have the right to do wrong. and this is why we have a 14th amendment to regulate these wrongs are often committed in the name of state's rights. mr. end for dr. king, the impressions that seem to have from the initial hearings on the president's civil rights measures seem to be that the there'll be an uphill fight to get the bill through.
should either there be a filibuster or for that matter, if when it comes to the vote the bill is defeated. what sort of action do you propose. i mean, to fight for the attainment of equality and for that matter, do you anticipate working much more closely with the other -- movements? i think there will be, i'm sure filibuster and will definitely protest this. we will lobby in washington seeking to get congressmen senators to stand up in a very firm, forthright with a determination to see this bill through. we plan to have march on washington on the 28th of august, at which we will take a stand letting the nation and the know that we are determined to see rights legislation.
beyond this, we will have to wait it out and see what happens. i'm sorry to interrupt, king, but our time has expired. thank you for being with us on press conference usa. this has been press usa. our guest has been reverend dr. martin luther king. on the panel where george and and will the united nations correspondent for the all african news agency, accra, ghana tv pa rostrum. washington correspondent for the indian express newspapers. and william workman, associate editor of, the state and the columbia record in columbia, south carolina. the moderator, robert