April 3rd, 1967 MLK gives “Beyond Vietnam” Speech

A year and a day before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, He gave a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam.” The speech called for an end to militarism, materialism, and racism… A worldwide movement towards peace placing life above profit. This is an excerpt from this famous speech,


The words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. 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 nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. [sustained applause]


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.  History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.


This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life.”



This was an excerpt from MLK’s speech, Beyond Vietnam. The full text of this speech will be posted on our website. The following year King was in Memphis to support the sanitation workers strike, he gave another speech proclaiming that though he may not see the promise land with us and even though tough times were ahead…we would someday get there. The following day he was murdered.

Beyond Vietnam

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