President Obama’s inauguration comes on the federal holiday in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech 50 years ago. We end our broadcast show with an excerpt from Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” address, given at New York City’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated. “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values,” Dr. King said. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: And we end today on this year of Obama’s inauguration coming on the federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech half a century ago, not far from here at the Lincoln Memorial. Because coming up in our coverage, we will be playing, in the five hours of coverage—whether your station broadcasts it or not, we will be at democracynow.org—we end today’s broadcast with the words of Dr. King himself.
REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
A true revolution of values will lay a hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking April 4th, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated in Memphis.