Rights Action Need In North, Says King

Hudson Dispatch
September 23, 1965

By Helen Bensimon

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., leading figure in the civil rights movement and Nobel Peace Prize winner, called yesterday in Jersey City for a “massive action program,” to end “de facto segregation” in the north.

Dr. King made his remarks while delivering the convocation address at the annual Michaelmas convocation for senior students at St. Peter’s College. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in the ceremonies , which mark the opening of the academic year.

He said he had not seen the “kind of massive program . . .massive concern . . . necessary to give Negroes a sense of belonging” in the north. He said recent civil rights legislation had made “massive strides,” but still left a great need for action in the north.

In a press conference following his address, Dr. King explained that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he heads, is launching a program aimed at Chicago, and is “laying the groundwork for demonstrations” around three-fold needs for better housing, jobs, and schools there. He also mentioned Natchez, Tenn., as a possible future target area.

Few in the capacity audience that filled Dineen Auditorium were aware of a bomb threat that had been received by the college public relations department just as Dr. King and his party were crossing the quadrangle to enter the building. Dr. King reportedly chose to go ahead as scheduled.

Although the noted proponent of non-violence did not touch on politics in his 40-minute talk on “The American Dream,” he answered numerous questions on his controversial stands, particularly regarding Viet Nam, at the press conference.

In discussing Viet Nam, he dismissed criticism that he was not qualified to give pronouncements on the subject. “Anybody has competence to speak on life and death matters . . . you don’t always have to be an expert,” he said. He revealed that his attorneys were currently studying the Logan Act, to determine whether he could go through with his plan of contacting Viet Cong, Soviet, and other leaders in the hopes of bringing about a meeting leading to a negotiated settlement of the issue.

Turning to Communist China, he compared that country to a child which wants attention and throws temper tantrums to get it. “It is better to have them in the UN than out,” said Dr. King. “You can’t discuss world disarmament without them..”


Dr. Martin Luther King's Speeches In Jersey City