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Video Explores MLK’s Views on Vietnam, Militarism, Poverty

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Cliff DuRand

Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” address was, without a doubt, one of the great speeches of our times. It was a powerful expression of the aspiration for racial equality that still rings in our ears today, but there is another King speech, less well known but equally relevant for our times. It was an April 4, 1967, speech at Riverside Church in New York City, where he spoke out against the triple evils of our country: racism, materialism, and militarism. In a resounding condemnation of the US war on Vietnam, King said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world is my government.” He warned that “a nation that continues, year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

In his day, King was vilified for publicly opposing the Vietnam War. But in the last years of his life, his calling to oppose violence brought him to speak out and organize against the moral corruption of the country. He took the civil rights struggle to the cities of the North, highlighting the uncomfortable reality that racism was not unique to the South. He pointed to “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long,” decrying the way the US had put itself into opposition against the poor and oppressed people of the world.

“I am 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. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. 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.”

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. 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.’ It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, ‘This is not just.’ The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.”

And King brought that perspective home by launching the Poor People’s campaign that brought him to Memphis, where he was assassinated April 4, 1968—one year to the day after his Riverside Church speech.

Occupy will look at these last years of King’s life and his moral boldness that many preferred to ignore. This is recounted in a new documentary King in the Wilderness, which will be premiered on HBO April 2. Join us for discussion. Our events are free.

 

Talk and Discussion:

Occupy San Miguel presents

“The Fierce Urgency of Now: Martin Luther King Jr.”

Mon, Apr 2, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel

Loreto 15, TV room

Centro

Free

 

 

 

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