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Remembering the Real Martin Luther King

Posted on Apr 3, 2008
King statue
Kelly Branan

Forty years after his death, Martin Luther King, one of the great prophets of American democracy, has been reduced to little more than a lifeless statue. Yet his courageous call for peace and criticism of his government at a time of war must not be lost to history.

Toward the end of his life, King turned his attention to poverty and the war in Vietnam. After giving the speech below, in which he called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” King was dropped from Gallup’s annual list of the most admired Americans and was ridiculed by the New York Times, among too many others. Soon after, he was murdered.

King said that America “can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.” Those words were echoed years later by The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a man who served his nation in uniform, who devoted his life to the welfare of his community, but was dismissed as a kook and a racist and a hater of his country for challenging its moral impenetrability.

America, apparently, does not take well to criticism. Thus it seems an appropriate time to let that King, not the statue, but the patriot, say his piece.

Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break Silence

By the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Text from


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Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. 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 distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit. I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. 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.” And that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. 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. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

And 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. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

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 the 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.

In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try 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.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. 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. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellowed [sic] Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. 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. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor—both black and white—through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

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By KDelphi, January 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

Summarized from

The real way to honour King’s legacy is to devote ourselves to an all-out struggle to eradicate racism, poverty, war, and all forms of oppression. As King was beginning to see towards the end of his life, this means building a movement to abolish capitalism.

King also began to talk about the need for socialism.

In a speech delivered to his staff in 1966, he said: “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry… Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong… with capitalism… There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

Then, go play the Bailout Game!

It is like monopoly and you get to ‘call a friend” like Greenspan! Its funny and may soften the blow of this: the stats on the bailout…

Not certain source is reliable, but looks close…)

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By troublesum, January 19, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

He was the last public figure in America who had the courage to always speak truth to power.  He did it at great personal cost and ultimately gave his life.  Where do people get the idea that he would have seen Obama’s election as the realization of his dream?  It is merely symbolic and he had no use for mere symbols and tokens.

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By G.Anderson, January 19, 2009 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

Sometimes I wonder, where we would be if Martin Luther King had not been murdered.

His death was a tragic loss for our country and the world, and made our progress much more dificult.

Each one of us has prejudice and fear of some sort or other, hiding safely behind our judgements.

The generation behind me seems less predjutice, than I am, and today, for what it’s worth, I am grateful for that, a reflection in which I can see my own grotesqueries, and grow more as a person.

If America is only about, money, property, wealth,  privledge, and celebrity, then America is a country, where no man or women can ever live in peace.

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By Big B, January 19, 2009 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Did MLK dream of a Black america that still, in 2009, lives largley apart from Whites? Did he dream of a nearly 50% High School drop out rate among blacks? Did he dream that nearly three quarters of black children are raised in single parent households, often by grandparents or relatives other than their parents? Did he dream of 1 in 5 black american males being dead or imprisoned by the age of 25?

The Black community has never recovered from the organized slaughter of their leadership in the 1960’s and early 70’s. Since then, the Black community has abandoned the teachings of MLK and Malcom X, and Medgar Evers. They have stagnated in their dying urban communities, riddled with drug abuse and unemployment. Entire generations of young black men have been lost.

We in the white community share much of the blame for the condition of the US Black community. We killed their leaders. We kept them in the inner cities. Our banks wouldn’t loan them money. Our realtors wouldn’t sell them homes, Our employers wouldn’t hire them. Our colleges wouldn’t accept them. We whites did everything in our power to keep the Black community down. And we, in large part, succeeded. The election of one Black President, who was raised in the white world, educated in the white world, and ultimatley afforded all the opportunites of the white world, will not magically make the inherent problems of the Black community disappear.

Lets not let all the hoopla about having a Black man in the White House make us forget that, while all of america has problems, the Black community is wrought problems that have existed for decades and will not be solved easily. Racism did not vanish on Nov. 5th!

If there is one thing the Blacks in america can learn from Obama it is that, while singing and athletic talent might get a few out of the ghetto, education will create far more opportunites for far more people. Our forever dumbening white community should learn that lesson as well.

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By Conservative Yankee, April 10, 2008 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I did comment here, but it seems the censors won’t print it… Check your “private messages”

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By Crimes of the State Blog, April 10, 2008 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

“A key piece of evidence is, of course, the alleged murder weapon. A rifle was found resting against a brick building which housed an “amusement company” whose owner was on the premises at the time of the shooting.

James Earl Ray’s original lawyer, who investigated the facts of the case, and is today a judge, describes the circumstances:

“The State’s theory was there was a Browning box, a Browning rifle box, that contained some items of clothing, a radio that had James Earl Ray’s Missouri state penitentiary number on it and a Remmington 760 rifle that James Earl Ray had bought in Birmingham.” -Judge Arthur Haynes Jr., the original lawyer for James Earl Ray

It happened that when the box was placed at the amusement company wall, the owner Mr.Canipe saw a man drop it there, near the entrance, and continue walking down “South Main St. on foot” — and this was TEN MINUTES BEFORE THE SHOT WAS FIRED!”

Was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Murdered by the U.S. Government?

“After hearing and reviewing the extensive testimony and evidence, which had never before been tested under oath in a court of law, it took the Memphis jury only one (1) hour to find that a conspiracy to kill Dr. King did exist. Most significantly, this conspiracy involved agents of the governments of the City of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the United States of America. The overwhelming weight of the evidence also indicated that James Earl Ray was not the triggerman and, in fact, was an unknowing patsy… We stand by that verdict and have no doubt that the truth about this terrible event has finally been revealed.” -Statement of King Family on the Justice Department’s “Limited investigation” of the MLK Assassination, January 15, 2007

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By Conservative Yankee, April 10, 2008 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lowell….I remember it well. Worked in the Night Owl, and had friends on Bridge Street during the Seventies when the Dunkin Doughnuts blew up and took out two other buildings, and just about every piece of glass on the street for half a mile.  The explosion rocked the kitchen where I was working across the river, and I thought (having just returned from Alaska) that it was an earthquake!

My mother is Jewish, so in some quarters so am I.  I have an answer to your question, but I sure no one will like it.

First the Blacks usually (Cyrena being an exception) see the civil rights struggle, and Dr. King as belonging to African Americans alone.  Sometimes they tend to forget that several white folks lost their lives in this struggle also.

In my family (The Jewish side) shares a similar memory lapse about the Holocaust True (as with the blacks during civil rights) the large majority of victims were jewish, BUT there were also others, sometimes these “others” came from a targeted class, but there also were some “good Germans” who couldn’t tow the Nazi line. Hiding a Jew, helping a Jew escape, or even sharing food with a starving Jewish family, as some Poles attempted in Warsaw, was enough to warrant a death sentence… a slow death through labor in one of many camps.

My point being some cross cultural friendships developed.. Cyrena’s point about exposure bringing peace…

I can’t disagree with the thrust of your stereotype. Rev Jackson’r depiction of my home town as “Hymie-town” and Al Sharpton’s continual and outright anti semitic statements cause me to (unfairly?) dismiss some of their good ideas… just human nature.

I hope for a better future, but Knowing the significance of our (humsns) canine teeth, I have my doubts about all races standing in a circle singing Kumbyah

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By cyrena, April 10, 2008 at 2:38 am Link to this comment

You’re absolutely correct CY, and if I failed to articulate that I perfectly well KNEW this was about the POOR people, then it is my error. (though I’m sure I’ve made this clear a few jillion times in other postings).

In short, I grew up in these times, and from the very beginning of them, (even though I personally was NOT as ‘deprived’ as many) I’ve ALWAYS known that Dr. King’s stuggle was NOT ‘restricted to people of color’. I can’t imagine how ANYBODY could have missed that.

I surely made that clear to the ignorant among my own at the time, when they so ignorantly proclaimed (after his assassination), “Oh well, no great loss.”

They didn’t ‘get’ at all, that the LOSS was one for MOST of us, but particularly for poor people everywhere in this country. This is NOT ‘new’ to anybody that had even an inkling to what Martin Luther King Jr was about.

So, while it’s not a ‘small’ piece of the idea at all, I don’t think I’ve missed it. Nor have I missed the fact that race has continued to be the dividing line in this country, but I’m not taking the blame for that.

And, this ‘dividing line’ (at least among the poor) is perpetrated by ignorance more than anything else, and not ONLY by the ‘rich’ but by what used to be the middle class as well.

Education and exposure leads to tolerance and the acceptance that will cure this. Until we ALL have such access, this will continue.

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By kath cantarella, April 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

and my apologies for the really bad poetry, Dr King.

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By jimmyjam, April 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

I do agree with you on the Mass. thing, being from Lowell,and growing up in the projects. there are some people here that would love to label me a racist, because I dont except in it’s entirety that only black were discriminated against. My question though is and this is because of just not knowing,I always heard that the Jews had a lot to do with civil rights for blacks, if so why are so many blacks against the Jews, CY I’m sure I will get a straight answer from you, but to the others that want to be dicks , just don’t bother. thanks for any reply.

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By Sleeper, April 9, 2008 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

King made some very stinging indictments of our foreign policy.  He said ” something is wrong when we send troops 8000 miles away to South East Asia to secure liberties that are not secure in South West Georgia”.  “Something is wrong when we spend $500,000.00 to kill each enemy combatant and only spend $53.00 to help the poor and most of that pays the salaries of the ones who provide the aid.”

His plan to march on Washington D.C. in search of an economic bill of rights for the poor (A jobs program) was probably the straw that got him killed.  Wars are full of waste and money to be made by the greediest of the greedy.  They must keep the masses in line by throwing them to the machinery of death.

Free Speech is not free and it is certainly not guarenteed in the United States.  It will be tolerated for a time, but our shadow government is no stranger to supporting the oppressive both in the third world and at home.

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By Conservative Yankee, April 7, 2008 at 5:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cyrena… Ithink you may have missed a small piece of the idea..

“Dr. King the strict constructionist referred to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. He stated, “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned ... Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check - a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.” Again, a clear indictment of America!”

After all, it was “The poor people’s march” not the poor-people-of-color march. The White ghettos in Worcester Springfield, and Lewiston are in the same dark place as the share-croppers of 1960 Mississippi. Their life spans are shorter, their population is beset from without by employers leaving the Northeast, and within by crime,, poverty and a slow-death of “hope.

The blueberry pickers here in Washington County get just $3,000 (on average) for a season (seven weeks)This money is withheld as “traveling pay” until the job is completed. the owners often take the “rent and board” for a one-room shack and beans or potatoes from the gross.  Children as young as six work with their parents. They are not “actual workers” but contribute to their parent’s “box count” the basis for pay.

Bob Dylan’s words “I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me” fit these folks. 

I’ve seen black poverty too. I spent time in Newark, East St. Louis, and Patterson. Funny thing though, to me, it looks no different from the poverty of Appalachia, Pine Ridge, or parts of Washington County Maine!

The divisions by race have got to end. it is a battle rich vs Poor, and the longer we allow THEM to define conflicts by color-lines, the longer the poor will stay poor!

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By cyrena, April 7, 2008 at 12:58 am Link to this comment

Not just a ‘weekend commemoration. Hopefully we’ll all read his words from then, that remain sadly relevant today.

It’s Not the Dream; It’s Our Nightmare
  By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III
  t r u t h o u t | Perspective
  Friday 04 April 2008

  On April 4, America commemorates the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We will hear those powerful words “I Have a Dream ...” What many of us don’t realize is Dr. King was no dreamer. He was a visionary, not some abstract thinker or philosopher. He was a prophet and a true revolutionary.

  The best way to pay tribute to Dr. King and his total sacrifice is to understand what he stood for. Start by reading two speeches. First, read “I Have a Dream.” Second, read “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” Don’t allow others to selectively define Dr. King for you. Read these two speeches for yourself.

  The original title of the “I Have a Dream” speech was “Normalcy - Never Again.” Dr. King the realist states, “... we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.” That was no dream; that was our reality and a clear indictment of the social conditions in America at that time.

  Dr. King the strict constructionist referred to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. He stated, “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned ... Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check - a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.” Again, a clear indictment of America!

  Dr. King the prophet said, “There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundation of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” These are the words of a true revolutionary not a dreamer!

  He continued, “We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.” That was the reality then and based upon the events in Florida in the 2000 presidential election, Ohio in 2004, and the disenfranchisement of voters in the Democratic primaries in Florida and Michigan, this continues to be our reality today.

  The “dream” reference actually comes toward the end of the speech. As the story goes (and this may be lore), Dr. King was close to ending his nine-minute delivery when the great gospel singer, Ms. Mahalia Jackson, who was seated behind him, said, “Tell them about your dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream!” At that point, Dr. King went away from his prepared text. He spoke of the dream in the context of a horrific reality for “Negro’s” and the poor. What makes the “dream” significant is its juxtaposition against America’s reality, failures and oppression of its own citizens.

  Dr. King was correct then and proves to be prophetic today. I’ll take some license here ... We must face the tragic fact that, based on the unemployment rate for African-Americans, the racial make up of the majority of those incarcerated in America and the horrific failure of the government’s response in Hurricane Katrina “... the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity ... the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.”

  It’s not the “dream”; it’s that vision in the context of a horrific reality!

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By Bill Blackolive, April 6, 2008 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

People like Desertdude fear black guys because Desertdude and ilk got no share from being white and need to feel better than somebody so they buy into superstition and think black guys have bigger penises and stronger muscles because they have less grey matter. Homo sapiens are last report 200,000 years ancient and have larger penises than apes but this is not taught in US silly formal education, when it really should be brought up in first grade but is not because our society of the few riding on the many is ruled by these fat slob farting few.  Poor, poor Desertdude.  His next incarnation he has got to use his given grey matter.

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By Harry H. Snyder, April 5, 2008 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment
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PG asks:

“Why is it that Progressive minds are killed -yet Good Ol Boys can walk freely without fear of attack”

Actually because this is not true.

George Wallace was shot in Laural MD (1972)

John Stennis was shot as he opened his front door in Washington DC

AND there is always the Dixie-Chicks friend “Earl” who was a quintessential GOB!

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By Conservative Yankee, April 5, 2008 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
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The night Dr. King was shot was also the only time in my life I was ashamed of my white skin.  I remember people celebrating in the streets of White Plains, and the words “Martin Lazarus Koon” being shouted.

I remember my boss saying “Thank god that’s over” when the radio announced MLK’s death. The bosses son went out and got us all beers…

We say that over these last forty years things have improved for African Americans. We point to Obama, (currently the only sitting African American Senator, and the third since reconstruction) as proof of change. Illinois by itself, elected two of those US Senators, and Massachusetts elected the other. Heavily populated black States like Mississippi, Michigan, and the Carolinas should have been places where black Governors and Senators thrived, but none of these States have even had a black elected to statewide office.  The black representatives from the south come from squiggly lines called Gerrymanders largely devised to keep black representation confined to black areas… sort of like the school-district lines of the Sixties…. In White Plains.

If King returned from the grave, and saw us today…. he would still know who we are.

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By Austin, April 5, 2008 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
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Actually MLK’s personal life shouldn’t be new information to those who have taken the time to really educate themselves about him. It’s a shame that he would admit this charge to you (which he did to Coretta at one point), while we’ve had a President (whom I would have still voted for over the current one) lied about.

And while we try to minimize the impact of important individuals, we can’t act like some of the more beloved citizens were perfect human beings. We all know that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and claimed blacks were naturally inferior in his “Notes on the State of Virginia” (which helped to set the intellectual trend of black inferiority in the US). But even in spite of all of that(and the difference between me and you), as a black American, I can still realize and appreciate the revolutionary precedent himself and others outlined in the Declaration of Independence…

Please don’t be so narrow-minded in your analysis of an individual. That doesn’t help if you’re actually trying to change someone’s mind…

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By PatrickHenry, April 5, 2008 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

This post is about MLK not Clinton.

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By Paul_GA, April 5, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

...that certain people within the US government decided to have Dr. King killed shortly after he gave this speech. I know I can’t prove it, but I still believe it. Why? Because, as a civil-rights icon, Dr. King helped make the US central government bigger and stronger; but by expanding his message into antiwar activism, he became an “enemy of the State”, as States, no matter how much they may claim to be “peace-loving”, love war. War, even more than civil-rights activism, allows governments to expand their powers and justify hanging on to them, no matter how wrong and cruel those powers are. As Randolph Bourne said, “war is the health of the State”.

I don’t know if Dr. King knew of this next quote, from Leo Tolstoy, but I’m sure he would’ve wlecomed it: “The greater the State, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded. Therefore, if we really wish to be what we profess to be, we must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the State, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening, and help this forward with all our might.”

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By StPauliGirl, April 5, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment
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Womanizer and a thief? and your ‘proof’ is someone told you? Because of what someone else said, you are willing to dismiss everything he did?

The hoopla about a ‘guy like this’ is because that wasn’t the sum total of the man.

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By Expat, April 5, 2008 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

^ and nothings changed.  Dr. King’s speech was defining.  I marvel at our lethargy 41 years on.  We dishonor those prescient souls who preceded us and those among us today.

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By Purple Girl, April 5, 2008 at 3:58 am Link to this comment

15 boxes found in Dallas Vault….Last word we’ve heard. I’m Apologizing to all those ‘whacked out Crazy Consipracy theorist’-although I never really called them that, I even had questions about all those ‘Lone Gunman”.JFK< MLK<RFK and even John Lennon. Why is it that Progressive minds are killed -yet Good Ol Boys can walk freely without fear of attack (Mac has declined Secret Service)????Granted Ford & Ronny were shot at - but who was behind them to take up the reins? And why are those who have killed these Patriots such great shots and the others only mediocre?
Laugh if you will- but I’m fashioning my own tin Hat! maybe it does block out the Mind control air waves. There is a thought that states smoking makes the brain work faster. Why haven’t they gone after the Alcohol industry too? I rarely drink anymore - bu tI think I’ll keep smoking - I enjoy it and considering the way the country is going, I’ll be doing myself & my fellow citizens a favor by not living long enouhg to be a burden on th ehealthcare system for too long. Obama- You have the Right to Smoke, even as president!You are a Free AmericaN Citizen too!
I was too young to comprehend MLK while he was alive- but I can Still Dream and I still Imagine

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By cyrena, April 5, 2008 at 12:44 am Link to this comment

A Nation of Slaves Remains Trapped in a
•  “In almost every way, the problems and realities King voiced than are worse today. At the same time, more people are aware of it than ever before but feel powerless in the face of a government that plainly doesn’t care what we think.”
Such an excellent post Jaded Prole, despite the sadness of the truth…we should all be willing to confront it, or at least ACKNOWLEDGE it.

Everything you say here is true, and then some, including the fact that as we speak or right, Americans continue to be fearful of losing their jobs and anything else relative to their survival, by appearing to be ‘troublemakers’ when in fact they are simply acknowledging and attempting to address the realities of an existence that as you’ve said, includes the same problems that Dr. King devoted his life to addressing.

And yes, they ARE worse now. I never thought I’d say it, but it is the truth. And while people may be more aware, we are less equipped to address it. The feeling of powerlessness is all so very real. Anyone assuming more than that is truly living in a different reality.

So, while I’m sad to acknowledge it, it IS the first REQUIRED step to ever dealing with it.

I remember this day so well in my mind…though I’ve only recently had reason to recall it as frequently as I do now. One of the things that stands out so much in my mind from that day 40 years ago, is comment similar to the one posted by desertdude at 146958. It was the day after his assassination, and pretty much what we were all talking about in my first period speech class that day. A very ignorant (HS senior – though I was only in the 9th grade myself) made this comment in reference to his assassination, “Oh well, NO GREAT LOSS, he was just a troublemaker anyway”. (should I mention that this was a Catholic Girls High School, or should that even matter?)

Back then, it brought anger, and now…just a sadness that 40 years hasn’t been able to cure the ignorance.

And no, things haven’t changed, because the ignorant are still so ignorant. The oppression continues, even if it appears in a different form. We’re not much better off now than the Germans of pre WWII Germany, under the worst of a fascist regime.

Is this one (the current gangster regime) worse than all of the others since the days of Martin Luther? I’d say yes, because we’ve had a few good guys. We had, albeit briefly, Jimmy Carter. Even Clinton didn’t do the same level of damage that we’ve been victimized with in the past 8 years. No, he didn’t, and I won’t ever make that accusation.

On the other hand, absolutely ANY gains that may have been seen as such in the era of Dr. King have all been destroyed.

BUT…We ARE more aware. That counts for something.

Thanks again for the reminders of the realities.

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By jamie, April 4, 2008 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The full (original?) and incredibly beautiful version of the Beyond Vietnam speech (the transcript above) was delivered at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 - the YouTube link above is apparently from a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967…  it has many of the phrases and themes from the earlier one, but is different. The April 4th version will (should) make you cry - his tone, his choice of words, his voice - everyone living in this country who cares about this concept of being an “American” or is interested in the power/beauty of the English language should hear it at least once in their lifetime.

And the guy talking about him being a “womanizer”... seriously? C’mon dude.
Are we to assume that you disassociate yourself with every person you know who has strayed? If so, more power to you, but in general “good people” sometimes do “bad things.” (And isn’t the adultery for his wife and his God to judge, as for the rest of us, he tried to make our lives better and shouldn’t we be thankful?)

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By desertdude, April 4, 2008 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment

was a womanizer (aka adulter) and also a thief. This from friends of mine while we served together in Vietnam. So why so much hoopala about a guy like this?

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 4, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

MLK was much more eloquent the Rev. Wright but the meaning was the same.

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By kath cantarella, April 4, 2008 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

His flesh was borrowed and the lease ended, but the words will always be his very own.

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By dr wu, April 4, 2008 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

The “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” MLKing

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam
Delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
April 4, 1967
At Manhattan’s Riverside Church

That’s all there is; that’s all you need to know on this the 40th anniversary of his death.

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By ElkoJohn, April 4, 2008 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

thanks for the post
it really helps to hear from true patriots
to hear someone courageously speak the truth
voters don’t like to hear the truth ‘bout ‘merika
they prefer the might-makes-right
my country right or wrong, mentality. . .
but the truth will set us free
or by the lies, shall we perish
wait & see

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By Leefeller, April 4, 2008 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

In a local Methodist church, my close friend and pastor at the time, gave the Marten Luther speech during Sunday services, complaints from some of the bigots got him fired.

We have come part way, but have a long way to go. Bigotry and Ignorance is still with us,  cutting funding from our schools is part of the master plan. Keep the people ignorant.

Tying it together is easy if one only looks behind the curtain .

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By Jaded Prole, April 4, 2008 at 4:05 am Link to this comment

In almost every way, the problems and realities King voiced than are worse today. At the same time, more people are aware of it than ever before but feel powerless in the face of a government that plainly doesn’t care what we think.

Also, as a nation of slaves, most people fear losing their jobs for being seen as “troublemakers or radicals” by their employers. This is a very real issue as workers in America have few rights and live tenuous lives without economic security or the safety net whose funds are squandered on militarism and war. I am but one example of a worker let go for “speaking out against the war.” Others have voiced the fear of being seen protesting by their bosses. How then can the class struggle be separated from any other?

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