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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “The School Boycott Concept”
Caption: In this op-ed, published in the Amsterdam News, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes about the “school boycott concept” and its application across the country, particularly in the North.Read plain text of document
In this op-ed, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. writes about the “school boycott concept” and its application across the country, particularly in the North. He is writing more than two months after the February 1964 boycott, and nearly a month after the March one in New York City. There had been other large-scale school boycotts in other cities, too, as in Chicago in 1963.
Dr. King was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and he spoke before the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was the most recognized civil rights leader in the United States, and he was well-known as an advocate for non-violent resistance. He was born and raised in the South, and had done most of his organizing work in the South, but his was a national voice and he was increasingly attentive to racism and civil rights violations in the North as well as the South.
Dr. King used the term “de facto segregation” to describe segregation in the North. This term has a confusing history. Sometimes civil rights advocates like Dr. King used it to recognize that even without laws requiring segregation, like in the South, segregation was powerful and important. But others used the term to say that no one was responsible for segregation - it just happened. Of course, segregation did not just happen. It was the result of many policy choices in education, as well as in housing and more. White opponents of desegregation used the term that way in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s important to keep in mind why Dr. King used the term to talk about segregation in the North, and avoid using it to pretend that segregation had no causes.1
Matt Delmont, “The Myth of De Facto Segregation,” accessed February 8, 2023, http://whybusingfailed.com/anvc/why-busing-failed/the-myth-of-de-facto-segregation. ↩︎
Date: Apr 11, 1964
Creator: Amsterdam News
Source: Amsterdam News
Copyright: Amsterdam News
How to cite: “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘The School Boycott Concept,’” in New York City Civil Rights History Project, Accessed: [Month Day, Year], https://nyccivilrightshistory.org/topics/boycotting-ny-schools/responding-to-the-boycott/dr-king-on-school-boycott-concept.
- Why do you think Dr. King wrote this op-ed and why do you think he published it in the Amsterdam News? Who was the intended audience and what was his intended purpose?
- Dr. King references the idea that some think the boycotts may alienate certain “allies” in the movement. To whom do you think he is referring? What is his response to that idea?
- In your opinion, what is Dr. King’s view on the use of school boycotts?