Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: War Resister
What would King say today about the War in Iraq?

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday. He would have been 75 years old.
Younger generations know Dr. Martin Luther King as the country's most prominent civil rights leader of all time But King's opposition to the Vietnam War, and to U.S. foreign policy in general, has been erased from mainstream history.
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before Dr. King was assassinated, he gave a speech at Riverside church in New York City called "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." Time magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."
As U.S. bombs continue to fall on Afghanistan and Iraq, and the mainstream media continues to silence opposition to today's war, we turn to Dr. King's speech.

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Answer the following questions after reading and listening to King's speech, Beyond Vietnam. You are encouraged to use the resources below for references.

  1. Why did King speak out against the war in Vietnam?

  2. Why was it difficult for King to oppose the Vietnam War?

  3. How was King criticized for speaking out against the war?

  4. According to King, how did the war affect Black communities in America?

  5. Are there similarities between what King saw in America's involvement in Vietnam and current events regarding our country's war in Iraq? Is King's speech relevant today? Explain.

  6. Overall, what is your reaction to King's speech? Do you agree with him that peace needs to be established before civil rights can be achieved?


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King's Beyond Vietnam Speech (large print)

King's Beyond Vietnam Speech (pleasant background)

How King's speech applies to America's war on terrorism and possible war against Iraq

Democracy Now radio program with guest actor Danny Glover speaking about his censorship in relation to his opinions about America's war on terrorism and King's Beyond Vietnam speech. (Real Audio is needed for this link to work).

Coalition causalities in Iraq

Monitor the monetary cost of the war



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  Updated: 1/15/04