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…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.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam speech, April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City
King’s “Beyond Vietnam” or the “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” speech was made one year to the day before he would be assassinated. This is King at the depth of his popularity, when even many, including Black people, turned their backs on him. This is King at his most controversial, and possibly at his most enlightened.
I chose to put up this speech today of all of King’s speeches because, as many have noted his stated opposition to the Vietnam War could easily have been about opposition to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also the quote above shows a concern for people as opposed to things, which is very much an environmental message, and a worthy, all encompassing dream.
He went over a lot of heads with this speech and it’s a shame, not only have we sanitized his message so as to be unrecognizable, but we’ve been celebrating in what Dr. Cornel West calls “The Santa Clausification of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Unfortunately, King still goes over a lot of heads with this often buried, rarely celebrated speech.
Read the full speech via americanrhetoric.com