King’s Vietnam

Martin Luther King
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Civil Rights March on Washington, DC. Photo credit: Rowland Scherman; restored by Adam Cuerden / Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
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Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day, when the nation stops to remember a man regarded as the indisputable leader of human rights in our time. He was also a leading voice against the war in Vietnam, which consumed the lives of young men—many of them black—at an astounding rate.

WhoWhatWhy has reported before on evidence that King’s anti-war stance may have sealed his fate. Dr. William F. Pepper, former Vietnam War journalist, international human rights lawyer and author, personally knew King. He also represented James Earl Ray, who he argues was framed for King’s murder. But Pepper suggests that King’s opposition to the Vietnam War played a fundamental role in his murder.

For Martin Luther King, the war itself was a question of civil rights. While his “I Have a Dream” speech is most famous, his “Beyond Vietnam” speech on April 4 of 1967 in New York City took the civil rights movement in a profound new direction. Listen to his powerful words below.

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8 responses to “King’s Vietnam”

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  3. edwardrynearson says:

    NPR reported the outcome of the trial in Memphis in 1999. You can hear the audio here on my blog

  4. bobjonestwo says:

    There was a civil trial in Memphis in 1999 that cleared Ray and implicated the government in MLK’s murder. Strangely the media has kept silent on this trial. Just look up 1999 MLK civil trial for more info. King’s upcoming march on Washington against the Viet Nam war was the main factor behind his murder.

  5. matthewcarmody says:

    Dr. King was killed almost a year to the day after his speech at Riverside Church in which he pledged to put all the resources of his movement behind ending the war in Vietnam and devoting them to ending poverty among blacks and whites in America. Malcolm X had been murdered just a little over three years previously after splitting from the Nation of Islam and indicating that he was open to working with all people, black and white alike, to challenge the capitalist system that was perpetuating poverty and class warfare in America.
    Nothing has changed except now a black man who was chosen to be president is carrying on the battle for the Owners against the rest of us.

  6. Katrien says:

    The transcript does not match the audio. Is the audio edited? If so, why and by whom? (I don’t mean in small ways, which would be expected, but in enormous ways.)