Monday, January 18, 2010

Global Peace & Civil Rights

The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America - Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967

Martin Luther King Jr. brought visionary change to our country and his extraordinary efforts and sacrifices helped lead us to a day when we see an accomplished, educated and charismatic African-American president elected to the White House.
However, few people remember that Dr. King was in staunch opposition to the war in Vietnam, which was waged in the “national interest,” as are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today. For him, peace and civil rights went hand in hand. People asked why he was raising the ire of the US goverment by oppossing the Vietnam war and how that could derail his efforts for civil rights -- but for him it was a moral obligaion to fight injustive everywhere he saw it. In his own words, spoken April 4, 1967 "Beyond Vietnam: A time to Break Silence".
"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. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? 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. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live."

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