MLK’s Historic Speech to an Association Still Resonates
He encouraged organizations to use their professional abilities to eliminate racial injustice
The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. were prominently featured on protesters’ signs in cities around the country—and the world—in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. His words and his convictions still resonate, as they did 53 years ago when he addressed the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 75th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
In the speech, King outlined the key role he believed psychologists and other social scientists should play in helping the United States overcome racism. “Social science should be able to suggest mechanisms to create a wholesome black unity and a sense of peoplehood,” he said. He expressed hope this could happen, saying, “Black people still have faith in a dream that we will all live together as brothers in this country of plenty one day.”
King challenged the audience to be more involved in getting to the root causes of racism, which he called “gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail.” He also called on APA members to help build an understanding of the underlying causes of the urban violence and rioting of the period.
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