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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Must have been an interesting guy

This week in class someone quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., from his speech during the 1965 march on Selma (and/or a 1967 speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference):

[T]he arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
But it turns out MLK was paraphrasing 19th century abolitionist minister Theodore Parker:
I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.
Parker must've been an interesting guy, since Lincoln paraphrased him in this part of the Gettysburg Address:
government of the people, by the people, for the people
This was inspired by an 1850 anti-slavery speech by Parker:
A democracy,— of all the people, by all the people, for all the people
Good stuff. You can read more about Parker, someone who echoes through our public discourse but who is himself forgotten, at this NPR article.

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