Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Curriculum: Beyond Vietnam

Any number of historic moments in the civil rights struggle have been used to identify Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — prime mover of the Montgomery bus boycott, keynote speaker at the March on Washington, youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But in retrospect, single events are less important than the fact that Dr. King, and his policy of nonviolent protest, was the dominant force in the civil rights movement during its decade of greatest achievement, from 1957 to 1968.

In “Beyond Vietnam” Dr. Martin Luther King uses his extraordinary Rhetorical ability to make connections between the Civil Rights movement, poverty, the Vietnam War, and what he calls a “revolution of values.” These connections created a wave of controversy within the Civil Rights movement, but strategically pushed his message outward to the American public and even farther out around the world. Dr. King says in his speech, “Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path.”  And yet, it was his commitment to this path that forever changed how the American public looks at  and thinks about these issues. Beyond Vietnam stands as an exemplary model of the power of words, and Dr. King as one of our greatest orators.