World News

Martin Luther King on war, and what it takes to make peace

Posted by: The Conversation

Date: Tuesday, 16 January 2024

As the number of U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in Vietnam continued to increase during the mid-1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. found himself in a tough spot with President Lyndon B. Johnson.

It was Johnson who had signed into law both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was Johnson who orchestrated the Great Society programs that promised social uplift and racial equality. But LBJ was also at the heart of the escalation of the war.

Though his advisers urged him not to speak out against the war, King ultimately did, often and loudly. For King, “silence had become betrayal.” Hajar Yazdiha writes about King’s views on war − and what he might say about peace in the Middle East. “This is the story of the anti-war King who understood that violence begets violence and that the political courage to speak for peace is essential to democracy.”

Howard Manly

Race + Equity Editor

Martin Luther King Jr.’s moral stance against the Vietnam War offers lessons on how to fight for peace in the Middle East

Hajar Yazdiha, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. knew the political consequences of speaking out against the Vietnam War − and he did it anyway.

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