Now if we are going to have this kind of massive action program that is necessary to solve the problem, we’ve got to get rid of one or two false notions that are disseminated around our nation, false ideas and myths that are constantly circulated.
Now, one is the myth of time. You’ve heard this idea. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem. It is the idea that we must somehow sit down comfortably by the wayside and wait on time. The individuals who believe in this constantly say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, “Just be nice and just be patient and don’t disturb the peace and just continue to pray, and in a hundred or 200 years the problem will just work itself out. Only time can solve the problem.”
I think there is an answer to that myth. It is that time is neutral. It can be used either constrictively or destructively. I must honestly say to you tonight that I feel that the forces of ill will in our nation, the extreme rightists of our nation, the forces committed to negative ends of our nation have used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. And it may well be that we will have repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people who would bomb a church in Birmingham, Ala., but for the appalling silence of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.” Somewhere we must see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. We must help time, and we must constantly realize that the time is always right to do right. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.