Friday, April 4, 2008

Forty Years Ago Today...

Forty years ago today, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

In a 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York, exactly one year before his death, King explained his opposition to the Vietnam War and tied it to his advocacy on behalf of the poor. The war buildup had "continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube," King said. "So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

"Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools."

One thing that I did not know--to this day, the King family believes that James Earl Ray had nothing to do with the assassination.

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