Teaching Activities (Free)

A Revolution of Values

Teaching Activity. By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 3 pages.
Text of speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War, followed by three teaching ideas.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Martin Luther King Jr. speech at UN Plaza | Zinn Education Project

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to a crowd of an estimated 400,000 people at the United Nations Pplaza after an anti-Vietnam War march, New York City, April 15, 1967. Source: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images.

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech in New York City on the occasion of his becoming co-chairman of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (subsequently renamed Clergy and Laity Concerned).

Titled “Beyond Vietnam,” it was his first major speech on the war in Vietnam — what the Vietnamese aptly call the American War. In these excerpts, King links the escalating U.S. commitment to that war with its abandonment of the commitment to social justice at home. His call for a “shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society” and for us to “struggle for a new world” has acquired even greater urgency than when he issued it decades ago.

The speech concludes:

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. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain . . .

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world.

Full text and audio of Beyond Vietnam online at AmericanRhetoric.com.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had issued a statement against the Vietnam War the year before after the murder of Sammy Younge Jr.

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