HIS 107 Readings

Excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King's 1967 speech on the Vietnam War

"I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

“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, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

MLK’s Challenge to Us:

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”
“We still have a choice today, nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall 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.”
“Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”