We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. King contemplated but ultimately decided against the proposal on the grounds that he felt uneasy with politics and considered himself better suited for his morally unambiguous role as an activist.[26]. But we must move on. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. 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. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. Obery M. Hendricks Jr., Ph.D. (January 20, 2014). 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. Part of our ongoing [applause continues], part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. [25], King's stance on Vietnam encouraged Allard K. Lowenstein, William Sloane Coffin and Norman Thomas, with the support of anti-war Democrats, to attempt to persuade King to run against President Johnson in the 1968 United States presidential election. Or will there be another message—of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The major speech at Riverside Church in New York City, followed several interviews and several other public speeches in which King came out against the Vietnam War and the policies that created it. [sustained applause]. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. Procrastination is still the thief of time. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. 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. In fact, in the aftermath of the “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Dr. King was wildly unpopular. Jamie Mason Ms. Lowe English 1102 TR, 8:25 2 February 2013 A Time to do What is Right 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. King Jr delivered his “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” in 1967 in NewYork City. They must see Americans as strange liberators. 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. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the North” as if there was nothing more essential to the war? We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of a new violence? In his speech on the meaninglessness of the Vietnam war and to persuade the audience to listen to its own conscience rather than to conform to the idea of war in the name of patriotism, King Jr draws from the realms of economy, society, polity as well as religion and philosophy. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. "[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. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. Surely this madness must cease. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. Could we blame them for such thoughts? 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. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be considered. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Political and Social Views, American Prophet: Online Course Companion, Freedom's Ring: King's "I Have a Dream" Speech. Martin Luther King, Jr. - April 4, 1967 - Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence Full and unabridged. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1954. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. Meanwhile [applause], meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. It was his first major public antiwar speech and a powerful warning that a rise in racial hatred, militarism and … "[25] King quoted a United States official who said that from Vietnam to Latin America, the country was "on the wrong side of a world revolution. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. 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]. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, San Francisco. [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]. By Staff of United for Peace & Justice - 50 years ago, on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church, in NYC, Martin Luther King delivered his powerful and most controversial speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”. That speech, entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break The Silence, was an unequivocal denunciation of America’s involvement in that Southeast Asian conflict. We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. We must stop now. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances. Excerpts from this speech are used in the songs "Together" and "Spirit" by Nordic Giants. On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his first major public address on the War in Vietnam at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City. [applause] These are the times for real choices and not false ones. 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. 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. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech that may have helped put a target on his back. We must move past indecision to action. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. 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. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. That speech, entitled Beyond Vietnam: A … The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. 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. . Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. 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. 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. Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life? 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. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. 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. Beyond Vietnam / A Time to Break Silence Background. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954—in 1945 rather—after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”. What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? While those words from 1963 are necessary, his speech “Beyond Vietnam,” from 1967, is actually the more insightful one. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Protest on the Homefront >> Martin Luther King, Jr. >> "Beyond Vietnam" - April 4, 1967 Search Tips Full-Text and Audio Excerpts of Martin Luther King's speech "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967 - Riverside Church, NYC, available on this site. Some, like civil rights leader Ralph Bunche, the NAACP, and … We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. In “Beyond Vietnam” (1967), his speech delivered at the Riverside Church in New York, Martin Luther King opened by quoting from Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam.. “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” King explained, then concluded: “That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.” King’s words that followed still ring true today. "[10], King also criticized American opposition to North Vietnam's land reforms. 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. We in the West must support these revolutions. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” Unquote. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. It incensed President Lyndon Johnson, who revoked King's invitation to the White House. "[9] He stated that North Vietnam "did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands", and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, "mostly children. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. 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. King, Interview on Face the Nation, 29 August 1965, RRML-TxTyU. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization. King delivered the speech, sponsored by the group Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, after committing to participate in New York's April 15, 1967 anti-Vietnam war march from Central Park to the United Nations, sponsored by the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood. 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. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. Some, like civil rights leader Ralph Bunche, the NAACP, and the editorial page writers of The Washington Post[3] and The New York Times[4] called the Riverside Church speech a mistake on King's part. It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries. These are revolutionary times. The march was organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and initiated by its chairman, James Bevel. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. 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. 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.”. [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. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. And as 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. On April 15, 1967, King participated and spoke at an anti-war march from Manhattan's Central Park to the United Nations. 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. It is also a much more dangerous and disturbing speech, which is … For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. 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. 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. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. 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. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs at the same time. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. This was, of course, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech against the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. . If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. Martin Luther King brings the Vietnam War in relation to the Poverty Program of the government. Four: Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government. At the U.N. King also brought up issues of civil rights and the draft. The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. The peasants watched and cringed and Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" was a powerful and angry speech that raged against the war. 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? Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. King, “ Beyond Vietnam, ” 4 April 1967, NNRC. 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. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. What of the National Liberation front, that strangely anonymous group we call “VC” or “communists”? 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. 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 - … Perhaps a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both. 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. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. King's speech in New York set the tone for the last year of his life. A portion of this speech is used in the track "Wisdom, Justice, and Love" by Linkin Park, from their 2010 album A Thousand Suns. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. [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]. Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans. [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. [applause]. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight hundred, or rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores. 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. Fifty years ago on April 4, 1967, our prophet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the historic speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” at New York City’s Riverside Church. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroy, whose culture is being subverted. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. Rev. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. 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. 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. 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. "The calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak," said King. 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. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. P: (650) 723-2092  |  F: (650) 723-2093  |  kinginstitute@stanford.edu  |  Campus Map. The Uncompromising Anti-Capitalism of Martin Luther King Jr. "Why Martin Luther King Didn't Run for President", "The Story Of King's 'Beyond Vietnam' Speech", "Dragons, legos, and solitary: Ai Weiwei's transformative Alcatraz exhibition", Full transcript of the speech from Commondreams.org. My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. 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