I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, some of the most distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. "[25] King condemned America's "alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America", and said that the U.S. should support "the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World rather than suppressing their attempts at revolution. [sustained applause]. That speech, entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break The Silence, was an unequivocal denunciation of America’s involvement in that Southeast Asian conflict. The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. [applause] Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. Exactly one year later, King was assassinated in Memphis. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. By Benay Blend. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroy, whose culture is being subverted. A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both. [20][21], In a 1952 letter to Coretta Scott, he said: "I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic ..."[22] In one speech, he stated that "something is wrong with capitalism" and claimed, "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. In Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence” (1967), Dr. King asserts that the war in Vietnam is totally immoral and has far reaching negative implications not only for Vietnam, but for The United States and the rest of the World as well. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. His speech "Beyond Vietnam" was condemned by many civil rights leaders who thought it hurt their cause. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence? Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life? [19] The major speech at Riverside Church in New York City, followed several interviews[2] and several other public speeches in which King came out against the Vietnam War and the policies that created it. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? 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. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence", also referred as the Riverside Church speech,[1] is an anti–Vietnam War and pro–social justice speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated. In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church—the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate—leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. [6] At the urging of SCLC's former Director of Direct Action and now the head of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, James Bevel, and inspired by the outspokenness of Muhammad Ali,[7] King eventually agreed to publicly oppose the war as opposition was growing among the American public.[6]. King spoke strongly against the U.S.'s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. "[24], King also stated in "Beyond Vietnam" that "true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar ... it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. At the time, civil rights leaders publicly condemned him for it. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech that may have helped put a target on his back. Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated: And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. Shall we say the odds are too great? They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. King, “ Beyond Vietnam, ” 4 April 1967, NNRC. Procrastination is still the thief of time. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, D.C. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, San Jose. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. On April 15, 1967, King participated and spoke at an anti-war march from Manhattan's Central Park to the United Nations. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. A portion of this speech is used in the track "Wisdom, Justice, and Love" by Linkin Park, from their 2010 album A Thousand Suns. [13] Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Some civil rights leaders urged King not to speak out on the Vietnam War, but he said he could not separate issues of economic injustice, racism, war, and militarism. by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. w/ Introduction by Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research January 12, 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle 4 April 1967 I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict: Number one: End all bombing in North and South Vietnam. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people?” they ask. In fact, in the aftermath of the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Dr. King was wildly unpopular. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. King had read Marx while at Morehouse, but while he rejected "traditional capitalism", he also rejected communism because of its "materialistic interpretation of history" that denied religion, its "ethical relativism", and its "political totalitarianism. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling. Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. "The calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak," said King. High schools named after Martin Luther King Jr. Schools in France named after Martin Luther King Jr. Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, John F. Kennedy's speech to the nation on Civil Rights, Chicago Freedom Movement/Chicago open housing movement, Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, Council for United Civil Rights Leadership, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, List of lynching victims in the United States, Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Beyond_Vietnam:_A_Time_to_Break_Silence&oldid=995555102, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 21 December 2020, at 18:06. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” Unquote. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. They remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier: Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. Dr. King’s purpose is to make the church leaders he is speaking to aware that the time has come for them to speak out loudly in … He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. King's speech in New York set the tone for the last year of his life. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. "[15][16], The "Beyond Vietnam" speech reflected King's evolving political advocacy in his later years, which paralleled the teachings of the progressive Highlander Research and Education Center, with which he was affiliated. Martin Luther King April 4, 1967 Riverside Church, New York City 2 Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents. [1][5], King was long opposed to American involvement in the Vietnam War, but at first avoided the topic in public speeches in order to avoid the interference with civil rights goals that criticism of President Johnson's policies might have created. I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Rhetorical Devices In Beyond Vietnam Speech 736 Words3 Pages All they wanted was “to save the soul of America” (King, Beyond, 42). Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? These, too, are our brothers. We have destroyed their land and their crops. Martin Luther King Jr is an African American preacher and civil rights activist that along with every other African American male and female in 1976 was waging a war in America for their not-so-natural born rights. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. Number two: Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation. King, Statement on voter registration in Alabama, 9 March 1965, MLKJP-GAMK. Addressing a crowd of 3,000 at Riverside Church in New York City, King condemned the war as anti-democratic, impractical, and unjust. The peasants watched as all of this was presided over by United States influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. These are revolutionary times. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. [applause] These are the times for real choices and not false ones. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views, American Prophet: Online Course Companion, Freedom's Ring: King's "I Have a Dream" Speech. They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a unified Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. MLK Beyond Vietnam – Excerpts from Speech “Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence” was delivered in New York City’s Riverside Church on April 4th, 1967, one year to the day before Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. His speech was titled "Beyond Vietnam: Time to Break the Silence '. Martin Luther King: “Beyond Vietnam” (1967) In April 1967 American civil rights leader Martin Luther King delivered his best known anti-war speech, dubbed ‘Beyond Vietnam’: “I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. The New York Times editorial suggested that conflating the civil rights movement with the anti-war movement was an oversimplification that did justice to neither, stating that "linking these hard, complex problems will lead not to solutions but to deeper confusion." "[23] Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. One of the eight "sound cells" in @Large, Ai Weiwei's 2014–15 exhibit at Alcatraz, features King's voice giving the "Beyond Vietnam" speech.[29]. A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” 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 the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. While those words from 1963 are necessary, his speech “Beyond Vietnam,” from 1967, is actually the more insightful one. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. Sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. "Vincent Harding dies at 82; historian wrote controversial King speech", "Vincent Harding, author of Martin Luther King Jr.'s antiwar speech, dies", "The Rev. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? This was, of course, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech against the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech that may have helped put a target on his back. What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? [27], In 2010, PBS commentator Tavis Smiley said that the speech was the most controversial speech of King's career, and the one he "labored over the most".[28]. What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Martin Luther King brings the Vietnam War in relation to the Poverty Program of the government. In modern times, we frequently picture Dr. King as a universally-admired champion of civil rights. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy [applause], realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. [sustained applause] I am pleased to say that this is a path now chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. In Hanoi are the men who led this nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French Commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. P: (650) 723-2092  |  F: (650) 723-2093  |  kinginstitute@stanford.edu  |  Campus Map. This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low [Audience:] (Yes); the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China—for whom the Vietnamese have no great love—but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. Rev. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. Through his use of imagery, diction, and parallel structure, Martin Luther King Jr associates the war in Vietnam with injustice in his famous speech, “Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence.” Martin Luther King Jr. applies imagery throughout his speech in order to illustrate the horrors of the war to arouse anger at its atrocities and injustice. 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