As we all celebrate and honor Dr. King’s Birthday, we wanted to point you to some of his amazing but lesser known speeches and good works, particularly his anti-war and anti-poverty initiatives. It is rarely talked about that Dr. King was not a perfect leader. His work to address the abject poverty of African Americans in the north and fight to end the escalation of the Vietnam war were largely unsuccessful campaigns. Without diminishing the importance of his work, the civil rights movement, or the dynamic person that he was, Dr. King’s great but imperfect life reminds us yet again that we don’t need to wait for elected officials nor to be perfect to make change in our world.
We hope these speeches and links will inspire and engage.
“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
Anti-poverty work was considered the second wave of the civil rights movement. Read more here.
The Mountaintop Speech that Dr. King gave the night before his assassination.
Audio from americanrhetoric.com. Flash required to play audio
King’s famous anti-war “Beyond Vietnam” speech (audio)