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A New Sense of Direction

马丁路德金的某篇文章节选

A New Sense of Direction(excerpt)

From the WORLDVIEW Magazine Archive, April 1, 1972

This is about the third time that I've tried to grapple with this entire question of the "state of the movement" in our staff retreats, the question of where we are and where do we go from here. I assure you it isn't easy to have a new perspective each time on this same old question, but I've made an attempt to restate it in my discussion prepared for this evening. I hope as a result of our discussions, together we will be able to find new guidelines and "a new sense of direction."

In the recent past our struggle has witnessed two phases. The first phase began in the early fifties when Negroes slammed the door shut on subservience and submission; the adaptation of non-violent resistance to the oppressive conditions of our country. We moved black people into the Southern streets to demand that their citizenship and manhood be respected. Considering that we were in the South—with such a complex system of brutal segregation—indeed we were inaugurating a rebellion. For merely to march in public streets was to rock the status quo to its roots. Boycotting buses in Montgomery, demonstrating in Albany and Birmingham—the true citadels of segregation; defying guns, dogs and clubs in Selma while maintaining disciplined-tactical non-violent strategy…all this was totally confusing for the racist rulers of the South. If they allowed us to march, they destroyed their myth that the black man was content. If they shot us down or brutalized us, they told the world that they were inhumane brutes. They attempted to stop us with threats of terror and fears—the tactics that had long been effective tools of suppression. Non-violent strategy had muzzled their guns and Negro defiance had shaken their confidence. When finally reaching for clubs, dogs and guns they found the world and the nation watching. It was at this moment that the power of non-violent protest became manifest. It dramatized the essential meaning and nature of the conflict and in magnified strokes made clear who was the evildoer and who was the undeserving and oppressed victim. The nation and the world were jarred awake and proceeded to wipe out thousands of Southern laws, ripping gaping holes in the edifice of segregation, through national legislation.

These were certainly days of luminous victories. Negroes and whites collaborated for the cause of human dignity. But we must admit that there was a limitation to our achievement. I have decided that this is the basic thing that I want to communicate.

Negroes became outraged by blatant inequality. Their ultimate goal was total, unqualified freedom. The majority of the white progressives were outraged by the brutality displayed. Their goal was improvement or limited progression. Obtaining the right to use public facilities, register and vote, token educational advancement, brought to the Negro a sense of achievement; he felt the momentum. But it brought to the whites a sense of completion. When Negroes assertively moved on to ascend the second rung of the ladder, a firm resistance from the white community became manifest.

Resistance began to characterize the second phase, which we are now experiencing. The arresting of the limited forward progress by white resistance revealed the latent racism which is deeply rooted in our society. The short era of widespread goodwill evaporated rapidly. As elation and expectations died, Negroes became more sharply aware that the goal of freedom

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