We thank David Plummer for reintroducing us to this speech by Dr. King. And just this month, we were again reminded that his father changed his own name to Martin Luther in response to a conference he attended in Nazi Germany in 1934, in the place where the evangelist inspired the Reformation. His young son became MLK, Jr.

The speech is both timely and timeless. Our members are clergy of various denominations. As Chaplains and Pastoral Psychotherapists, we stand at the crossroads of religion and the social sciences, and this speech is also directed at us. It is indeed important to remind our members of what has changed, what has not changed, and the choices we are asked to make even, or especially, today. 

–Bill Scar, Editor
The Pastoral Report
[email protected]

 


Martin Luther King, Jr.

JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES
VOLUME XXIV. NUMBER 1, 1968

The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

It is always a very rich and rewarding experience when I can take a brief break from the day-to-day demands of our struggle for freedom and human dignity and discuss the issues involved in that struggle with concerned friends of good will all over the nation. It is particularly a great privilege to discuss these issues with members of the academic community, who are constantly writing about and dealing with the problems that we face and who have the tremendous responsibility of moulding the minds of young men and women all over our country. 

The Civil Rights Movement Needs the Help of Social Scientists

In the preface to their book, Applied Sociology (1965), S. M. Miller and Alvin Gouldner state: “It is the historic mission of the social sciences to enable mankind to take possession of society”. It follows that for Negroes who substantially are excluded from society this science is needed even more desperately than for any other group in the population. For social scientists, the opportunity to serve in a life-giving purpose is a humanist challenge of rare distinction. Negroes too are eager for a rendezvous with truth and discovery. We are aware that social scientists, unlike some of their colleagues in the physical sciences, have been spared the grim feelings of guilt that attended the invention of nuclear weapons of destruction. Social scientists, in the main, are fortunate to be able to extirpate evil, not to invent it. 

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