Academic Question

While I was writing a paper last year I came across this:

Regarding D'Souza:

Here is the quote from the debate I watched: (He has also used this same line in other articles)
"Martin Luther King once said that ultimately every man must write with his own hand the charter of his emancipation proclamation."
When I asked him (D'Souza) what the citation was, here is the response I received:
"It's cited in my book The End of Racism. But I don't have the book at hand so I must request that you look it up. If you don't want to purchase the book it's available in most libraries."
So I found is book from the library and the actually quote says the following (I think he is rephrasing from the pink part.)

End of Racism, page 198
"We must not let the fact that we are victims of injustice lull us into abrogating responsibility for our own lives. We must not use our oppression as an excuse for mediocrity and laziness. Our crime rate is far too high. Our level of cleanliness is frequently far too low. We are too often loud and boisterous, and spend far too much on drink. By improving our standards here and now, we will go a long way toward breaking down the arguments of the segregationist...The Negro will only be free when he reaches down to the inner depths of his own being and signs with the pen and ink of assertive manhood his own proclamation." (Cited in Washington, ed., A Testament of Hope, pp. 212, 246, 489-90)

page 212
page 246
page 489

So, then I look at the citation for this quote from A Testament of Hope, and I highlighted which parts of the quotation came from the different pages.

Isn't this wrong? Like, really, really wrong to pick and choose and lump together as if it was intended to be one quotation?


  1. I think this kind of paraphrasing is legitimate, since finding the exact meaning of a historical quote is an arbitrary science anyway. I mean, he did cite his sources accurately, right? So inquisitive readers such as yourself could look it up and make their own determinations? ;]

  2. From what I understand, you can synthesize another person's ideas, so long as you don't take them out of context and so long as you give credit to what parts go where. I mean, you can't say something like "Jesus said (Matthew) thou shalt...kill (Exodus?)." But it is interesting how easily those kinds of things can be done. Kudos for being critical!

  3. Great job, Kaleena. I am a reader for doctoral dissertations (the person who proofs citations). D'Souza is on solid ground as long as he is not placing the statement between quotes but footnoting the information as from A Testament of Hope. The information you have supplied indicates that he has acknowledged King as the source of the thoughts expressed in the sentence to which you are referring. Thanks to your scholarship, I am placing A Testament of Hope on my reading list.