--START YOUR TIMER--
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some –
some very sad news for all of you – Could you lower those signs, please? – I have some very sad
news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace
all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis,
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He
died in the cause of that effort. In this diﬃcult day, in this diﬃcult time for the United States, it’s
perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those
of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who
were responsible – you can be ﬁlled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst
blacks, and white amongst whites, ﬁlled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort,
as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain
of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to ﬁll with – be ﬁlled with hatred and
mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also
feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed
by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to
understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather diﬃcult times.
My favorite poem, my – my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not
hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom,
and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within
our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King –
yeah, it’s true – but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a
prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have diﬃcult times. We’ve had diﬃcult times in the
past, but we – and we will have diﬃcult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the
end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country
want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings
that abide in our land.
And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the
savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and
say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Thank you very much.
--STOP YOUR TIMER--