The Negro has been inflicted with 244 years of slavery and 100 years
of segregation. And so with the legacy of these two unjust systems facing him, it is only natural that he is way behind. And he has been out of the mainstream of American life, he has been on the periphery of American life for all of these years. And it would really be a miracle, that history hasn’t seen for someone to start exactly 344 years behind in a race and get ahead or catch up—unless something special is done. We’ve had special treatment in the negative sense for
344 years. Now we’ve got to get special treatment in the positive sense, in order to catch up and improve these lagging standards.
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1964 —