Why We Read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam”

Olive Green flier with text describing "MLK's Beyond Vietnam Speech Event" with an event description saying: Join us to read through and discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, "Beyond Vietnam" to explore the various themes and ideas within! We will be inviting guests to read excerpts out loud and participate in a group discussion together as well. 
The flier also includes The event time and date, which are Tuesday May 11, 2021 at 6-7:30 PM on Zoom with a link to register for the event at http://bit.ly/sjpjc-mlkspeech

by Vinh-Doan T.

On Tuesday, May 11th, myself and some other San Jose Peace and Justice Center volunteers and interns will be holding a reading and discussion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s crucial speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This speech was delivered on April 4th, 1967, exactly a year before he was assassinated. 

Especially at the time, this speech was highly controversial. In it King denounced the US’s invasion of Vietnam as unjust to not only the nation of Vietnam, but also to the US’s impoverished and black populations. Essentially any denouncement of the War in Vietnam was controversial at the time, and this ultimately made King despised amongst people who were in favor of the war. Additionally, many of King’s own supporters questioned why he decided to speak on a subject that was seemingly not in his wheelhouse of typical issues. 

Despite its controversiality, Beyond Vietnam was and is an incredibly crucial piece of media. It was not only an important precedent for the time it was delivered, but it also stands as an important discussion of “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism,” that King described. 

In fact, our event will also involve a discussion of several themes either based on or strongly linked to these three key issues. We would love for you to join us as we come together to explore what we can learn from Dr. King’s speech. 

Even though we are no longer in the midst of the Vietnam War, this speech still holds a lot of relevance. We are living in a time where the US has some sort of military presence almost everywhere in the world, and here at home our society still faces major problems such as the racism and the poverty that King spoke about. So, we are holding this event to see what this speech can teach us in regards to what ways we can view these issues, how they are connected, and what we can do about them. 

If you would like more information about this event, please go check out the event on our calendar!

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