More Than a Half-Century Later, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Famous Antiwar Speech Given New Life

Are we more enlightened today? The late civil rights leader’s daughter joined activists, scholars, and faith leaders to ponder the question.

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From Responsible Statecraft:

Fifty-five years ago this week, Martin Luther King, Jr. took to the podium at Riverside Church in New York City to condemn the United States’ war in Vietnam — and to name his government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

King’s speech denounced the violence the conflict was inflicting on the Vietnamese people, along with the deprivation it exacerbated on America’s poor, and called for a fundamental realignment of U.S. values at home and abroad.

On Saturday, April 2, a group of scholars, activists, and faith leaders, including MLK’s daughter Dr. Bernice King, gathered at that same church to read King’s speech and to reflect on its relevance in a world once again under the shadow of war.

Drawing attention to the overlapping global crises of our time, King reiterated her father’s call for a “revolution of values.”

“We are at a very critical point in this world,” she said. “We are almost at the point of total destruction and we don’t know it.” The answer to this, she charged, lies in her father’s plea: that we “make the necessary shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”

Her co-panelists, including Pastor Mike McBride of the LIVE FREE campaign, Andrew Bacevich, president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Rev. Traci Blackmon of the United Church of Christ, and Philip Agnew, co-founder of Dream Defenders, drew their own connections between the elder King’s prescient speech and the challenges facing the United States and world today.

Agnew emphasized the importance of connecting domestic struggles for justice with those abroad; Blackmon, while praising the international outcry against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, questioned the lack of similar reckoning for numerous past and ongoing U.S. wars around the world.

Bacevich, himself a veteran of the war in Vietnam, sounded a sobering note on the impact of King’s message almost six decades later.

“I fear that our nation, our countrymen are still not prepared to welcome that revolution of values that Dr. King called for,” he said. “His message was true, his call was correct, but I think we still got a long way to go to hear it and therefore, to act upon it.”

Watch video of the panel starting at 1:40:00 below:

7 thoughts on “More Than a Half-Century Later, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Famous Antiwar Speech Given New Life”

  1. Apr 5, 2021 MLK Opposed “Poverty, Racism & Militarism” in Speech One Year Before His Assassination 53 Years Ago

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 53 years ago, on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 39.

  2. Dreamy.
    King wanted political perfection that emphasized Love as a value.
    I want that too.
    We came pretty close to imploding then as now over bad values.
    The dreamy life is a world with no evil to tempt us, to harm us, to give us fear instead of love and a soundness of mind.

    We need better leadership and I do not mean a politician.
    We need to have wickedness taken out with the garage we polluted this planet with.
    We need someone with authority and ability to fix this whole world.

    We need someone with the ability and authority to do all this so that we can live together .

  3. Sickeningly, deranged Ukrainian President Zelensky recently dared to invoke pacifist, believer and practitioner of non violence, MLK during his speech to the US Congress, in which he begged, barked, and badgered the lawmakers to give him even more weapons of war.

  4. Hypocrisy. Michael King, lyingly calling himself “Martin Luther” in a media-celebrated form of cultural appropriation (his gravestone says Martin, his real name), fomented riots and violence all across the U.S., together with his four handlers from the Communist Party USA. He was also laughing and shouting suggestions when one of his fellow “pastors” raped a woman in a hotel room. It was a meeting where the woman complained about sexism in the Black movement, so one of the men raped her. The FBI have this on tape, and informed the politicians, who completely silenced the info. And the media never had any interest in it. Not today either when it has become known. It’s all about propaganda, not truth.

    Leftists who drooled over that speech were cheering the communist invasion of North Vietnam. They marched with North Vietnamese flags and chanted “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh is gonna win!” But the media never showed this. They always zoomed in on the one pregnant woman marching, leaving out the communist flags that would be flying over mass murder and tyranny.

    And of course they never said a word about communist Vietnam invading Cambodia in the 1970s. That has been erased from the history books and from the media. And of course they never said anything about China’s brief invasion of part of Vietnam as punishment, Cambodia being their ally. No, then suddenly there was no interest in “peace”. The laughable “peace movement” was only about supporting communist invasion of South Vietnam, which otherwise would have been as prosperous today as for example Taiwan.

    1. Considering Hoover’s history and his feelings about MLK if such a tape existed it would have been used, either as blackmail or released to discredit. No evidence of the former as MLK never wavered in his beliefs. The latter never happened, although the notion it existed had a small effect in giving people like you ammunition but hardly the effect of actually releasing such a tape would. The entire point of the FBI bugging him was to get something on him to discredit. Was rape not enough to do so?

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