“I Fear I May Have Integrated My People Into a Burning House” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Harry Belafonte speaks on last conversation between him and MLK.
Midway through the Civil Rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. realized that the struggle for integration would ultimately become a struggle for economic rights. I remember the last time we were together, at my home, shortly before he was murdered. He seemed quite agitated and preoccupied, and I asked him what the problem was. “I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply,” he said. “We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.”
That statement took me aback. It was the last thing I would have expected to hear, considering the nature of our struggle, and I asked him what he meant. “I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had,” he answered. “And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation.”
“I fear, I am integrating my people into a burning house.”
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Dr. King said the above statement to Harry Belafonte in a conversation they had before his death. Belafonte startled at the statement said to him “What should we do?” Dr. King told him that we “Become the firemen, Let us not stand by and let the house burn.”
On the flip side of that, you have a speech by Malcolm X. It was entitled “The House Negro and the Field Negro.” He spoke about how the House Negro loved the Master more than he loved himself. And that if the Masters house caught on fire, the House Negro would try to put the fire out. On the other hand you have the Field Negro. The Field Negro hated the master and despised his very existence. If the Master’s house were to catch on fire, the Field Negro would pray for a strong wind to come along.
Here you have two black thoughts that are on opposite sides of the spectrum. The feelings are as true today as they were when both these statements were proclaimed in the mid 60’s.
What are your thoughts on this?
How can one fight for something they don’t believe in?
Why would someone fight for something they believe will ultimately destroy the people they are supposedly fighting for?