Fifty years ago on April 4, 1967 (exactly one year before his assassination), Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., delivered a major speech at Riverside Church in New York City which articulated his reasoning for his opposition to the Vietnam War, and how the conflict was intertwined with racism and other pressing social issues facing the nation. Entitled "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," King traces the evolution of his thought on the war, and argues for a "radical revolution of values," stating:
. . . [W]e 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.Towards the conclusion of his speech, King posits a fundamental question:
We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.Wise words still today, fifty years hence. The full transcript of King's speech can be read here; the YouTube video above contains audio only.