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"I Fear I May Have Integrated My People Into a Burning House" - Martin Luther King Jr.

NeighborhoodNomad. NeighborhoodNomad. Posts: 2,731 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 2013 in The Social Lounge

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?
south4lifeSplackavelliBelovedAfeniilledoutCashmoneyDuxSoloman_The_Wiseluke1733skpjr78nj2089R.D.BrideofKillaCleveland7venty6black caesar


  • NeighborhoodNomad. NeighborhoodNomad. Posts: 2,731 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I hate when Mlk and Malcolm are pitted against each other directly or indirectly..

    It was indirectly, but these two are the perfect example for the premise of this thread:

    1. Because of the obvious "House Negro/Field Negro quote by Malcolm. I may be wrong but it's very likely MLK heard this quote/phrase before he was killed. This may have been a moment of clarity for MLK, realizing he was a House Negro and a pawn of his/our oppressors, that's why he specifically said "burning house". Maybe it was his sub-conscious, maybe it was just a coincidence.

    2. The very purpose of this thread was to ask and get answers to the questions in the o/p.
    Why would one fight for something they don't believe in?
    Why would someone fight for something they believed would ultimately be detrimental/destructive for those they are supposedly fighting for?

    When Malcolm believed the NOI was not the best thing for the people, not only did he publicly speak on it, he took action and left and started his own movement/mosque.
    When Martin believed that integration was not the best thing for the people, he continued to publicly speak and demonstrate actions that were completely contrary to his beliefs.

    So again the real questions are:

    Why/How would one fight for something they don't believe in?

    Why would someone fight for something they believe will ultimately be detrimental/destructive to those they are supposedly fighting for?

    And being that we live in a physically integrated country now, How do you (the people) feel about about the fact that one of the most prominent figures in the movement for integration secretly believed that it was not the right thing to do, but was fighting for it anyway?
    Ajackson17white715Africa UnitedSoloman_The_WiseWhoisDonG???
  • SneakDZASneakDZA damn, am I a sinner? Posts: 11,211 ✭✭✭✭✭
    preferring integration over segregation = coon status now?

    it's ironic that some of y'all negroes have it so easy you wax poetic on the days of jim crow thanks to to MLK.
  • SneakDZASneakDZA damn, am I a sinner? Posts: 11,211 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Darxwell wrote: »
    Dont slander mlk like that ruffin. He wasone the best leader that blacks in america have had.
    YOu ever ask yourself why whites only teach about Harriet TUbman & MLK but not Nat Turner & Malcolm X?

    The answer to that question will explain why he would call MLK a coon.

    harriet tubman would have shot a cracka in his cracka face with no hesitation if she had to.
    goldenjaAfrica UnitedBelovedAfeniSoloman_The_Wiseskpjr78
  •   Colin$mackabi$h Colin$mackabi$h Smartass Snatch Money ave.Posts: 16,562 ✭✭✭✭✭
    poverty should have been secondary, the world needs to work on knowledge first
    Powered by 9(0)'s sun.
  • NeighborhoodNomad. NeighborhoodNomad. Posts: 2,731 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Come on now. Comparing those two quotes just because they both have fire in them is stupid. MLK wasn't saying that Black people needed to save America for white people. He was saying that we needed to work so as to change America's ways of feeding off of and stepping all over the poor and disenfranchised. Being that Blacks are disproportionately poor and disenfranchised, he was still looking out for Black people. To me, he kinda looked forward and saw that integration would be pointless if America could just use economics to keep Blacks down in place of law.

    Also, I agree with Zombie. I don't think we would be in quite the same position we are now if MLK had lived. The large part of the Black Communities problems is that everyone saw Integration as the "Great Success" instead of the first victory in a long war. So once integration came a long, that unity disappeared as everyone went to try and get thier own piece of the pie and what leadership we had disappeared or took the form of people more interested in photo ops than effecting real change. I think if MLK was still around, he would have tried to keep people focused. And these comments if they are true suggest he was of that mindset.

    Why continue to speak and demonstrate for something you believe will be pointless?
    Imo MLK and MX are like ying and yang. They were not perfect.
    Soloman_The_Wise  Colin$mackabi$h
  • NeighborhoodNomad. NeighborhoodNomad. Posts: 2,731 ✭✭✭✭✭
    "...if America could just use economics to keep Blacks down in place of law."

    When did he say this?
  • Arya TsaddiqArya Tsaddiq Shalawam The Daughter of BabylonPosts: 15,333 ✭✭✭✭✭
    IMO, I think what MLK realized is that integration would open the door to the same "liberties" available to whites at the time. But I think he saw the big picture towards the end.

    Not only would integration not solve the deep rooted issues facing the black community do to years of exploitation and targeted destruction, buy it would also further dissolve the cohesiveness of the black community. Integration ultimately just caused class warfare between blacks who were already divided enough. When mlk was alive, it probably was a time were blacks were most unified. But because if what he was trying to do, we just became apart of a broken system.

    There are still people who are poor and less fortunate suffering from the same manufactured situations as they were back then just to a different degree. With integration, blacks will now just look to become apart of the "white man's" system to survive, when we could have used the unity to build and help our own. Now we have just become apart of a broken system. And it has become even more obvious as of late. Thus him saying he walked his people into a burning building.

    I think he regretted what he originally set out to do and just felt as if he could have put the same message across, just with a different end goal in mind.
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