A Revolution of Values

Teaching Activity. By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 3 pages.
Text of speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Vietnam War, followed by three teaching ideas.

  • Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, 20th Century | Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School | Resource Types: Teaching Activity PDFs

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks to a crowd of an estimated 400,000 people at the United Nations plaza after an anti-Vietnam War march, New York, New York, April 15, 1967. Credit: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images.

On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech in New York City on the occasion of his becoming Co-Chairman of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (subsequently renamed Clergy and Laity Concerned).

Titled “Beyond Vietnam,” it was his first major speech on the war in Vietnam—what the Vietnamese aptly call the American War. In these excerpts, King links the escalating U.S. commitment to that war with its abandonment of the commitment to social justice at home. His call for a “shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society” and for us to “struggle for a new world” has acquired even greater urgency than when he issued it decades ago.

The speech concludes:

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain …

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.

Download PDF for text excerpts of speech prepared for classroom use and teaching ideas.

 

This lesson was published by Rethinking Schools in Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World. For more readings and source material like “A Revolution of Values,” order Rethinking Globalization: Teaching for Justice in an Unjust World with role plays, interviews, poems, stories, background readings, cartoons, and hands-on teaching activities edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. See Table of Contents.

 

Related Resources

Vincent Harding

MLK: A Call to Conscience from Tavis Smiley Reports. An examination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stand against the Vietnam War and the influence of his legacy today. Tavis Smiley spoke with scholars and friends of King, including Cornel West, Vincent Harding (who co-wrote Beyond Vietnam), and Susannah Heschel. The interviews were conducted at the historic Riverside Church.

Text and audio of Beyond Vietnam online at AmericanRhetoric.com.

 

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