T.G.I.F.; Throw away the key; Bump in night; City hall; Promises; et al.

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Jun 26 01:44:49 UTC 1999

On Fri, 25 Jun 1999 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>      The CODP has "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the
> problem" from 1975.
>      The Periodical Contents Index shows "Are we part of the problem or of
> the answer?" by Harry Emerson Fosdick, NEA BULLETIN, December 1943, pg. 621.

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has the following, which probably
represents the coinage of the either/or formulation:

What we're saying today is that you're either part of the solution or
you're part of the problem.
        Eldridge Cleaver, Speech in San Francisco, 1969, in R. Scheer
_Eldridge Cleaver, Post Prison Writings and Speeches_ (1969) p. xxxii

Closer to the common form of the expression is this, which I found
through JSTOR:

Like the more modern black militant Eldridge Cleaver, many abolitionists
believed that a person or institution that was not part of the solution
was part of the problem.
        Gerald Sorin, _Abolitionism: A New Perspective_ 71 (1972)

I have a slight acquaintance with Cleaver's widow, Kathleen Cleaver.  Next
time I see her I'll have to ask her about the origins of this saying.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

More information about the Ads-l mailing list