The first video is of of Martin Luther King speaking on the Merv Griffin show about the war in Vietnam and communism. Below that is his speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967. When you see a military band performing in an MLK day, ask yourself what is wrong with that image. When you see the prosecutors of our modern wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan honoring Dr. King, ask yourself what is not right with that picture. The second video (Why I am opposed to the war in Vietnam) and links are from The Real News Network. Last, we have an article from The Intercept entitled What the Santa Clausification of Martin Luther King Jr. Leaves Out. Many should know that the liberal papers of the day such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and many in the Democratic Party loathed King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States. The Times said it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post said his anti war stance “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” The Times and Post were joined by 166 other American newspapers in condemning him. But how many eulogies mention any of that? Said the great Democratic President Lyndon Banes Johnson: “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” We gave him the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we gave him the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we gave him the War on Poverty. What more does he want?” Indeed, what more did he want? What more do those of us who fight for social and economic justice and oppose American empire want? Well, we don’t want ML King’s image being used to prop up the lies of a regime that makes war on the poor, that practices targeted assassinations, that jails whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning. That is the least of what we want.
MLK: Why I Am Opposed to The War in Vietnam
For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957, when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. […] Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.The reaction from the American political establishment — much of it traditionally associated with American liberalism — was swift and harsh. The New York Times editorial board blasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day. President Johnson stopped taking meetings with King. “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” Johnson reportedly remarked after the speech. “We gave him the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we gave him the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we gave him the War on Poverty. What more does he want?” One Harris poll conducted after King’s Vietnam speech found that only 25 percent of even African-Americans supported him in his antiwar turn — “only 9 percent of the public at large agreed with his objections to the war.” Many in the civil rights community split with King over the war. The NAACP under the leadership of Roy Wilkins refused to oppose the war and explicitly condemned the effort to link the peace and civil rights movements. Whitney Johnson, the leader of the National Urban League warned that “Johnson needs a consensus. If we are not with him on Vietnam, then he is not going to be with us on civil rights.” Jackie Robinson, the celebrated African-American baseball player and civil rights advocate, wrote to President Johnson two weeks after King’s speech to distance himself from the civil rights leader: “While I am certain your faith has been shaken by demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, I hope the actions of any one individual does not make you feel as Vice President Humphrey does, that Dr. King’s stand will hurt the civil rights movement. It would not be fair to the thousands of our Negro fighting men who are giving their lives because they believe, in most instances, that our Viet Nam stand is just.” “Formula for Discord” King had long considered himself a socialist, In 1966, he told staff at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that “there must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. Call it what you may, call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” The last years of King’s life saw him escalate his campaign against economic inequality. He campaigned against the Oklahoma right-to-work referendum and warned that increased economic competition between whites and blacks would undermine civil rights — calling instead for a “Grand Alliance” between working-class whites and blacks. He sought to use many of the same tactics he deployed in the South — boycotts, sit-ins, blockades — against economic injustice in inner cities in the North where African-Americans were trapped in endemic poverty. An article from the August 15, 1967, issue of The New York Times writes up King’s desire to “dislocate” large cities to force them to address these needs: launched the Poor People’s Campaign, aimed at providing good jobs, housing, and a decent standard of living to all Americans. Decades before American protesters took to the streets of New York City and other locales to “occupy” space to protest inequality, King proposed a massive tent encampment in Washington, D.C., to demand action on poverty. King was assassinated before he was able to set up the encampment, called Resurrection City. His widow Coretta Scott King, as well as fellow civil-rights leader Ralph David Abernathy, went ahead with the plan. The camp lasted six weeks until police moved in to shut it down and evict all of its inhabitants, pointing to sporadic acts of hooliganism as justification. Andrew Young, the young civil rights leader who later went on to be Jimmy Carter’s U.N. ambassador and a mayor of Atlanta, was horrified, saying the crushing of the camp was worse than the police violence he saw in the South. “It was worse than anything I saw in Mississippi or Alabama,” he said. “You don’t shoot tear gas into an entire city because two or three hooligans are throwing rocks.”
Support these sources:
TokyoProgressive makes available material from other websites without profit in order to help further spread news and commentary that is avoided by most mainstream media. Often, news sites delete their content after a certain period, and websites do simply stop existing. Also, our purpose is not to complete with other websites, particularly progressive media which deserves your support. Please support those websites and organizations if you feel they represent your own values and opinions. In this case, you can subscribe to their email list here:
TokyoProgressive has, over the course of its 20 plus years of existence incurred hosting and design related costs that come out of pocket. Archiving our articles and moving first to Drupal in 2008 and later to WordPress in 2016 incurred costs of approximately 4000 dollars. To date, over the same 20-year period, we have received donations amounting to about 200 dollars. We now have mostly hosting related costs, which are not substantial, but at the same time, our income is minimal since moving from Tokyo after the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disasters. If you feel you can donate even a token amount, we would appreciate it. Alternatively, please donate to the websites and organizations from which our articles are sourced.