6. New York City Bar Association (1965)  

the New York City Bar Association

A month after the 1965 March on Selma, King spoke to a full capacity crowd at the New York City Bar Association in Midtown. More than 500 people crammed the outside of the main meeting hall to listen, and 3,000 more were turned away from the building. The City Bar, first organized in 1870 in response to the judicial corruption of Tammany Hall, had been more liberal than the American Bar Association, which was still murky on Civil Rights legislation a year after LBJ’s passage of the Civil Rights Act.

King’s speech was largely effusive in its admiration for lawyers, but cautioned the law’s limits: “Justice at times proceeds with a halting gait, that at times the law has been slow to speak for the poor, the oppressed, the unpopular, the disfranchised.” At the end of his speech, he proclaimed, “I do not despair of the future. We as Negroes will win our freedom all over our country because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is America’s destiny.”