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  • Writer's pictureLocal History Collection


On this important holiday that honors the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we remember the powerful rhetoric he administered as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

Image source: The Springfield Student

As noted in an article by Robert Brodsky from today’s issue of Newsday, the “melodic cadence” of the speech given by Dr. King at Springfield College’s June 14th, 1964 commencement ceremony included a quote from Roslyn’s patron poet William Cullen Bryant's "The Battlefield":

And so I still have faith in the future, and I still have faith in America, and I still believe that we can and will solve these haunting problems. I believe this because I know that Carlyle is right, “No lie can live forever.” I believe this because William Cullen Bryant is right, “Truth crushed to Earth will rise again.”

It seems that in choosing this line of Bryant’s, and that of other great thinkers, Dr. King was stating that truth is a force that, by nature, cannot be truly erased despite the damage it may suffer, as is the will of good people who wish to live in a fair and just world.

Dr. King’s speech was delivered days after he was released from a Florida jail where he was held after being arrested during a sit-in demonstration at the Monson Motor Lodge in St. Augustine. His ability to recover from that experience (along with the many perilous situations he faced) and stand before an audience with strength and courage is something to be celebrated and remembered.

Though the same evil powers that struck down Dr. King continue to resonate throughout the world, the truths he put forth during his short lifetime resonate louder as they rise from the Earth again, and again.

Newsday subscribers can find the article at the following link:

If you do not have a Newsday subscription, you can take the following steps to access the article through the library’s research resources:

  1. Visit Proquest database search

  2. Select "Log in through your library to access more features."

  3. Search and select "Bryant Library"

  4. Enter your library barcode

  5. Input document ID into the search bar: 2478436762

  6. Click the resulting link for full-text access

To read Dr. King’s speech in its entirety, visit Springfield College’s digital archives and special collections. William Cullen Bryant's poem "The Battlefield" is available along with his other works on Project Gutenberg.

From The Bryant Library Local History Collection, we wish you a peaceful and reflective Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


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