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'Beyond Vietnam': New Haven group holds public reading of landmark Martin Luther King Jr. speech

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking during an anti-war demonstration in New York City in 1967.
Don Rice
Library of Congress
Martin Luther King Jr., speaking during an anti-war demonstration in New York City in 1967.

Martin Luther King Jr. is universally remembered as standing up for peaceful methods of protest to bring about societal change. As the world takes the third Monday in January to remember the renowned civil rights leader, the Greater New Haven Peace Council is set to celebrate his memory and read aloud King’s famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

Delivered in April of 1967, "Beyond Vietnam" brought to the forefront King’s condemnation of the Vietnam War and the escalating militarization of the U.S. economy. In King’s message, he emphasized how the growing military industrial complex was diverting money away from programs created to help fight poverty at home in the U.S.

“Rev. Martin Luther King spoke passionately that for the peoples’ movements to be successful, inequality, poverty and militarism had to be fought against together," said Henry Lowendorf, chair of the Greater New Haven Peace Council. "Civil Rights, and the other movements, wouldn’t be successful unless they did this.”

Lowendorf said King’s words are as true today as they were 55 years ago. Quoting from King's “Beyond Vietnam,” Lowendorf added: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

The Greater New Haven Peace Council said its goal is to bring together different movements and organizations for the reading of this famous speech, including unions, civil rights groups and people involved with education and health care, to point out the importance of carrying on King’s message.

The reading of “Beyond Vietnam” will take place at noon on Friday, Jan. 13, at New Haven City Hall.

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