Martin Luther King: ‘There is a constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.’

Excerpt from Letter From Birmingham Jail. Thanks to Julie Polter for highlighting this quote.

“I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help [people] rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood [& sisterhood].” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Just a reminder that King penned this letter in response to an open letter titled “Call for Unity” written by eight white Alabama clergymen who were supporters of the civil rights movement but were opposed to the public protests organized by King and others.

“We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized,” the wrote. “But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.”

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