News Release

War and Martin Luther King Jr.


Following are excerpts from King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech at the Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination. He was addressing the group Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam:

“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing Clergy and Laymen Concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. …

“This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

[Audio and full text]

Following are excerpts from King’s sermon “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967:

“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government…. There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward Jim Clark,’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children!’ There is something wrong with that press. …

“I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. … When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. … True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation.”

[Audio and full text]

The following can address King’s statements and legacy:

President of the Hip Hop Caucus, Yearwood will be in Memphis this weekend (where King was assassinated) and give a keynote address at a major media reform conference organized by Free Press.
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Director of the Shalom Center, Waskow has written 20 books on U.S. government policy and on Jewish thought. He spoke last April 4 at the Riverside Church at a commemoration on the anniversary of King’s assassination as well as the anniversary of his coming out publicly against the Vietnam War. Most recently, Wascow co-authored “The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”
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Laffin is with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C. He is helping organize protests that are going on in cities around the world today, Jan. 11, the fifth anniversary of the first prisoners being taken to Guantanamo. Laffin was in a delegation that marched to Guantánamo a year ago.
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National organizer for the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Stapleton is available for interviews until Monday evening.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167