Freedom's Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle against Racism in America, 1909-1969

By Gilbert Jonas | Go to book overview
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12.

Roy Wilkins: The Gentle Giant

Even if we did not believe steadfastly in making real, for black as well as white Americans, the great dream of equal opportunity for our young nation, tactically, for a numerical minority of about one-tenth, and an economic, political, and social minority of far less strength, integration is the only way to go. The word integration is not used here to mean assimilation. No one is advocating loss of identity, loss of color distinction, the burying of a culture, and a complete merging into the general population. The anti-integrationists have sought to give that impression of the integrationist position. We seek no elusive “melting pot.” Instead, we use the dictionary definition of integration: “The making up of a whole by adding together or combining the separate parts or elements.”

We seek to become a part of the whole, an equal part of that whole, to be on the inside with other Americans, rather than on the outside looking in. We want to make our country whole, to give it its missing teeth, to fill the ugly gap in its teeth, to enable it to throw away the crutches and hobbling gait of the color line and to replace the stuttered apology with strong straight talk.

Roy Wilkins, Address to the NAACP 61st Annual Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 30, 1970

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