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Black Law Student Association

Did you know? Celebrating Black History Month with interesting facts

February 08, 2016

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In honor of Black History Month, members of Lewis & Clark’s Black Law Student Association gathered interesting facts about the people, events, and places that influenced history. This week’s fact was gathered by 1L student Lawrence Pittman.

Many individuals know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a champion for civil rights. They also have heard or know of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Few individuals, however, know about the speech that Dr. King gave regarding Vietnam where 168 news articles denounced him and opposed his criticism of the United States’ stance towards the War in Vietnam.

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” he discussed the issues of increasing militarism, the escalating poverty that the country was facing and the underlying issue of racism within this country. Dr. King criticized the country’s efforts to draft young African American men to fight a war against the people of Vietnam, while those same African American young men were being denied basic civil rights and protections from the government for which they were fighting. Dr. King advocated that the money and resources that were being used to fight a war in another country should be diverted to fight against the poverty we have here in the United States. Dr. King’s criticism was specifically aimed at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s policy decisions. Although some might say that President Johnson was a staunch ally of African Americans, Dr. King felt that, as a practitioner of non-violence, he could not sit idly while violence was taking place in many places around the world. Dr. King’s belief led to his “Beyond Vietnam” speech and 55% of African Americans turned against him on the issue.

Sources

Read: Beyond Vietnam, Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967

Listen: The Story Of King’s ‘Beyond Vietnam’ Speech, National Public Radio, 2010

Watch: A Call to Conscience, part 1 of 6, with Tavis Smiley, 2010