Rights Action Need In North, Says King

Hudson Dispatch
September 23, 1965

By Helen Bensimon


The choice of Dr. King to receive the degree has been a controversial one. Scores of protest letters and telephone calls have reportedly been received by the college in connection with his arrival, a spokesman said.

Tuesday night a spokesman for TACT Committee of New Jersey , (Truth About Civil Turmoil), charged that the civil rights movement and Dr. King were “hypocrites.”

Dr. King, a short stocky figure in a charcoal silk suit, was heavily guarded by state police, local police, FBI and members of the defense department while at the college.

A statement answering criticism of the choice of Dr. King was prepared by Rev. E. G. Ryan, S.J., Dean of the college, and chairman of the convocation and distributed to the press. The statement, in the form of a letter of reply to a critical missive, said, in part, “I cannot accept your allegation concerning Dr. King and his connection with Marxist doctrine. This man is a true Christian and one with whom I am proud to identify myself.”

For Economic Reform

In his speech, Dr. King often pointed to the poor economic plight of many Negroes. In his press conference he said that the least progress of the civil rights movements had been made in the area of economics. He said that although the $2 billion anti-poverty program had brought “new hope,” it was only a “creative beginning which needs to be broadened.” He suggested three basic “economic reforms” – “massive” public works program; “massive” re-training; and increasing the minimum wage to $2 as well as extending its coverage – as necessary for making the poverty program effective.

Referring often to the passage in the Constitution which designates all men as equal, and which was used in the citation accompanying his degree, Dr. King said that the American dream of equality could not be achieved as long as there were feelings of superiority towards Negroes.

“If we are to be the great nation we are called to be, we must get rid of the notion of superior and inferior races,” he said. He also said that the ideas that time would set everything right, and that legislation was useless because it couldn’t change men’s hearts must also be dispelled.

He deplored the “appalling silence of good people . . .and even the church” in the belief that time would take care of all. “The time is always right,” he said.

Dr. King also insisted that legislation could ultimately work changes in men’s habits and attitudes, although it might not “change their hearts. Morality,” he said “cannot be legislated, but behaviour may be regulated. Laws may not change the heart . . . but may restrain the heartless . . .they may not make a man love me, but they will stop him from lynching me.”

Among the special guests at the ceremonies, which were not open to the public, were many civil rights leaders in the city, and members of a wide range of civic, religious and political groups. They included Negro Councilman Fred Martin and Julian K. Robinson, head of the city’s health and welfare department.

Also present was Rev. Ercel Webb of Monumental Baptist Church, who is executive director of Jersey City CANDO; Rabbi Samuel Berman of Temple Beth El, a CANDO board member; Rt. Rev. Msgr. Eugene O’Reilly of Christ the King Church, a member of the CANDO board and the Civil Rights Commission; John Bell, chairman of Jersey City CORE, and Rev. Jesse Truvillion of Lafayette Presbyterian Church.

A private dinner at the Sheraton Holland Motel honoring Dr. King was held last night by the college faculty

Dr. Martin Luther King's Speeches In Jersey City