King's 'Beyond Vietnam' Speech Turns 50

Apr 5, 2017

Tuesday marked 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. gave what is considered his “most controversial speech” -- against the war in Vietnam. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports how some in Harrisonburg yesterday honored that message.

The “Revolution of Values” event drew about 30 people to Harrisonburg’s Liberty Park Tuesday in hopes of reminding people of Dr. King’s message and the still-unfinished work he described 50 years ago in his Beyond Vietnam speech.

King Salim Khalfani is former Virginia State Conference NAACP executive director.

KING SALIM KHALFANI: Unless the people rise up as Dwight David Eisenhower implored us as he was leaving office, the military industrial complex will control all of our money, and will have us in wars all around the world, and that's true to this day, so we've got work to do. Let's get busy.

Steven Thomas of the Northeast Neighborhood Association in Harrisonburg led part of a call-and-response reading of Dr. King’s speech:

STEVEN THOMAS: We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.

DR. KING: 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.

The Harrisonburg Field Office of the US Department of Arts and Culture, which calls itself a “people-powered movement dedicated to cultivating empathy, equity, and social imagination” and is not an official government agency, co-hosted the event along with a handful of other local groups.