September 1, 1967 Martin Luther King gave an address to APA members at their
association’s 75th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. He challenged
social scientists to play a more active role and to “tell it like it is” when
it comes to race-based problems affecting the country and to come up with ways
to create a more wholesome black community. King believed that the social
help pull us all towards humanity’s highest potential. Fast forward 51 years
later and pieces of his speech still reign true today.
personally believe that if Dr. King could speak to social scientists today
in 2018 he would agree that there is still an awful lot to achieve, however
I believe that Dr. King would be impressed of how much psychology has gained
and contributed since the time of his address to the APA. The social science
field has changed and improved over the course of 51 years. Changes such as
representation in the field in terms of backgrounds as well as in terms of learning
and confronting the issues that are in front of us.
much has improved I do think King would also agree that we as a people are not
doing enough to address racism. Racism is often viewed as ‘individual acts of unkindness
rather than as institutionalized policies and practices that systematically
advantage whites and disadvantage people of color. There is no doubt that black
people need psychology as a means of direction and self-understanding. However,
during 1967 psychologist and other social scientists were not interested in the
correlation of social injustice and the mental well-being as it was related to
black people. King challenged them to
consider how generations of social, economic and psychological oppression had
impacted the lives of Black Americans over different generations.
A quote mentioned in Kings address to the ADA says “If
a soul is left in the darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not
he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” This quote more than
anything still remains true today. Policymakers of the white society have
caused the darkness; they create discrimination; they structured slums; and
they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance and poverty. The crimes of black
people are simple the outcome of crimes committed by white officials that abuse
their power and put systems in place to oppress black people. Until these
officials are held accountable for their crimes and replaced by people that
look like us there will always be a fight.
reading Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech within the context of 2018, I believe
the message given by King resonates today as much as they did in 1967. Much is
left to do to fully address his call to action, however
you can’t solve a problem if you can’t talk about it.