Dr King’s 1/18/63 Interview with David Susskind Jolted JFK’s Lack Of Morality Into Action And Change On Civil Rights

By Donald A. Collins | 18 January 2022
Church and State

David Susskind’s historical, long and intimate interview with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Originally aired on June 9, 1963 by WPIX-TV New York. (Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

To many the rebroadcast on Martin Luther King’s birthday holiday, marked on Monday January 17th (he was actually born on Tuesday January 15, 1929), was the most powerful way to remind all of us the unfulfilled promises of his vision for civil rights.

This hour-long personal chat featured on WETA here in DC on 1/17/22 replayed a remarkable interview conducted by David Susskind June 9, 1963 with King which you can read about here.

King’s gentle but clear admonitions jolted President John F Kennedy’s inaction on civil rights into a JFK speech on national TV which brought Democrats closer to civil rights action. There are articles on JFK’s conversion to a more firm civil rights position in Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere.

As the above article tells us, “David Susskind, a renowned producer well remembered for his interviews discussing social issues of the 1960’s, such as race, sexuality, and the Vietnam War. Susskind risked his life and career by conducting this wide-ranging interview with Dr. King.”

Apparently, based on the number of cigarettes Susskind smoked during this interview, I was not surprised at his somewhat early death in 1987 at 67, but what a memorable interviewer he was!

In this historic chat, King dismissed his chances of assassination as low despite his getting constant death threats.

King was firm and remained so in support for his active non-violence strategy (as opposed to a reticent non-violent do-nothing strategy—time will change things excuse offered by many) as better that the violence offered by others including Malcolm X who was assassinated February 21, 1965. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 which you can read about here.

Was JFK’s brother, Robert Kennedy’s civil rights stance, the cause for his assassination on June 6, 1968?

The price paid for bringing civil rights forward has been very heavy and remains central in the fight to keep our democracy from falling into the Trumpian hell of authoritarianism.

Many of Trump’s supporters don’t fully understand their own racism. Their often-unwitting belief that in advocating going back to “the good old days” they cite represents overt racism. Insight into the mentality of the militia types who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, as well as their actions elsewhere is powerfully documented in a January 2022 Scientific American article entitled “Inside America’s Militias” by Vanderbilt Senior Lecturer Amy Cooter whose credentials to understand and report by her 16 years of field work on their thinking are impressive.

The article’s subtitle reads, “In some members, longing for a fictional “simpler” national past can transform into violence and hatred”.

The midterms could be crucial in saving us from the abject immorality of the Republican Party.

Our 400-year history of racism could continue to evolve favorably but the failure to save our right to vote is central to saving our democracy and our reputation as the “arsenal of democracy” as FDR called us in a radio 29th December on the eve of WWII. Read about it here.

Trump has brought us a long way down to a sinister level of political immorality in a short time.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?” and “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?: Leaders Commit to Reduce Human Population”.

An Intimate Conversation with Martin Luther King | David Susskind Meets MLK | Timeline

President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address

FBI Arrests Leader Of Far-Right Militia Group For Role In Jan. 6 Attack | Zerlina.

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