MLK’s Challenge to Psychology

Fifty years ago and six months before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the American Psychological Association.

In September, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr., was only 38-years-old but already president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize when he took the podium at APA’s Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.

A re-reading of his powerful address today captures the urgent tone of the 60s, as he cajoled the nation’s social scientists to ‘tell it like it is.’ In fact, to APA’s membership, whom he addressed as ‘concerned friends of good will,’ his plea for help in changing a society ‘poisoned to its soul by racism,’ seems now ever more poignant in light of the tragedy that struck only seven months later.

The words he spoke that Sept. 1, as the convention’s Invited Distinguished Address, were reprinted in the Journal of Social Issues (Vol. 24, No. 1, 1968). While the speech was in galley proofs, the shocking and numbing news of his assassination was released.

This article from the APA Monitor features a full text of this speech: http://www.apa.org/monitor/features/king-challenge.aspx

Here is the speech as reprinted in the aforementioned journal: http://antonioepuente.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Martin-Luther-King-APA-Speech-1968.pdf