On April 4th, 1967, at the Riverside Church in New York City, Martin Luther King delivered one of his most famous speeches. It was called “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” The speech confronted the deeply rooted racism, militarism and materialism of the United States and describes our country as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.
In that speech, Dr. King offered a stern warning, saying, “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.”
He also questioned a war justified by the fear of an ideology, such as communism, wondering, “Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence?”
Dr. King’s challenge to engage in a radical revolution of values encountered vicious opposition then, but now, 50 years later, his speech and its call to action are more relevant than ever.
That is why the National Council of Elders, founded by Dr. Vincent G. Harding, who wrote the draft of the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, is encouraging everyone to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech by hosting speech-reading events in their communities on April 4th.
The organization Veterans For Peace is supporting this call to action and asking it’s chapters to organize and host events. To reach out to a Veterans For Peace chapter near you to see if you can volunteer at their event, go to VeteransforPeace.org and select “Find Chapters” under the "Chapters" tab. If you or your organization would like to organize an event of your own, select the “50th anniversary of Dr. King’s Beyond Vietnam speech” under the "Take Action" tab on VeteransforPeace.org. There you will find a toolkit that includes the full text of the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, tips on how to organize your event, who to invite, and more.
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“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. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. 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.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967
On the only national holiday that recognizes a person who worked for peace and justice, read “Beyond Vietnam”.... http://t.co/VFcsxnQpwu
— Veterans For Peace (@VFPNational) January 17, 2015
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