It was 35 years ago today in Memphis, April 4, 1968 when Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King was assassinated outside his hotel room. Memorials are being held across the country this weekend to commemorate King.
April 4 is the anniversary of another significant but lesser known date in MLK’s life. It was on this date, in 1967, exactly one year before he was killed, King appeared at Riverside Church in New York City. He outlined why he opposed the Vietnam War. It would become known as his “Beyond Vietnam” address.
Today we will listen to another speech of King’s against the Vietnam War given shortly after his Riverside Church address.
He would call the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and note that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
- Rev. Martin Luther King.
Well today in Harlem, the Riverside Church is celebrating the anniversary of King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech with an anti-war funeral procession that will proceed from Grant’s Tomb on 122nd Street down to Bryant Park near Times Square.
Caskets will be carried to represent those who lose and what is lost in war: one for everyone who has already died, another for those who are not yet dead, one for the civilians who die in the war, another for the loss of social betterment programs because of war, another for combatants, one for international laws that are ignored, another for the civil liberties, and finally a casket for the children who live in a violence filled world with fewer resources than needed.
On Saturday, the recently formed Black Solidarity Against the War Coalition is also hosting a permitted march through Harlem.