As we’ve noted, Peter Drucker viewed the Civil Rights movement in the United States with interest and approval, and in the 1930s, he was a frequent visitor to black churches, where he loved to listen to the oratory.
In his autobiography, Adventures of a Bystander, Drucker wrote that he also considered the ’30s to have been an important, if less analyzed, era of black advancement. In Drucker’s view, this was in no small part thanks to more and more cases of “the white freeing himself”—that is, letting go of deep-seated prejudices and habits of mind.
One reason for this was that the New Deal era was, in Drucker’s words, “the years in which the American Negro first produced in substantial numbers men of excellence, men of vision, men who had truly become free men.”
“What made them so powerful was not just their intellect, their scholarship and their uncompromising dignity,” Drucker wrote. “It was their integrity.”
For Drucker, Mordecai Johnson, one of the leading preachers and pastors of the 20th century, was a particularly shining example of this. Drucker explained, “This was the integrity out of which Martin Luther King Jr. arose, the integrity that gave the Negro leaders their inner sovereignty and moral authority, not only among their own people but also in white America.”
On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we hope good people everywhere will themselves strive to reach such heights of integrity.