On NBC's nationally televised program "The Nation's Future," the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. debates James J. Kilpatrick on the subject of sit-in demonstrations. Kilpatrick, editor of The Richmond News Leader at the time, was a prominent segregationist. The subject: "Are Sit-In Strikes Justifiable?"
Kilpatrick: "... it is an interesting experience to be here tonight and see Mr. King assert a right to obey those laws he chooses to obey and disobey those he chooses not to obey and insist the whole time that he has what he terms the highest respect for law, because he is abiding by the moral law of the universe."
King: "... I think in disobeying these laws, the students are really seeking to affirm the just law of the land and the Constitution of the United States. I would say this -- that all people should obey just laws, but I would also say, with St. Augustine, than an unjust law is no law at all. And when we find an unjust law, I think we have a moral obligation to take a stand against it ..."
For footage of the debate, go to www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn, then click on "Free resources" and "Finishing the Dream." The footage is under "1960-1962: Freedom Fighters."
* Transcript: @
* Passage from "Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr." (book): @
* Richmond Times-Dispatch article (November 27, 1960): @
* Kilpatrick obituary (New York Times, August 2010): @
* "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation" (book): @