Economic Justice: Dr. King's Legacy + Beyond Vietnam

Program #MALJ001-KINM003.

First program: Julianne Malveaux - Economic Justice: Dr. King's Legacy

The conventional media image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has him frozen in time at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 giving his inspirational "I Have a Dream" speech. Little attention is paid to King's remarkable political and social evolution in the last five years of his life. He became a trenchant critic of the Vietnam War. In his classic sermon at the Riverside Church in New York he denounced the war and "the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism." King increasingly saw the link between economic justice and racial equality and insisted that one was impossible without the other. His final days were spent in Memphis where he was actively supporting a strike by black sanitation workers and he was planning to launch a poor people’s march on Washington, DC. An assassin’s bullet ended his life on April 4, 1968.

Second program: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Beyond Vietnam

Every year, almost like clockwork around his birthday, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" gets airplay. The charismatic orator is frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. No doubt it was a great and historic presentation, profoundly moving and full of dazzling poetry and inspiring images. But he was to give another very significant speech that is often obscured. That was to come on April 4, 1967 in Riverside Church in New York. There King demonstrated his deep understanding of how the system works. He moved beyond a simple race analysis to include class and foreign policy issues. He forcefully denounced the war in Vietnam. He called the U.S. "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" and he deplored the "giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism." Exactly one year later King was assassinated in Memphis where he had gone in solidarity with striking sanitation workers.

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