Justice too long delayed is justice denied.
I’m reading A letter from Birmingham jail, a tiny book, a massive book, originally written on the margins of a newspaper in an Alabama jail in 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr.
It was written as a response to eight white Alabama clergymen who argued that the battle against racial segregation should be fought in the courts, not in the streets.
I’m going to copy some of it here for people to read. It reminds me of much of Saint Pauls contribution to the New Testament, written in prison. God bless this eloquence.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied’. We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen a vicious mob lynch your Mothers and Fathers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to coloured children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness towards white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking ‘Daddy, why do white people treat coloured people so mean?’Martin Luther King, Jr. Penguin Modern 01