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Essay about Martin Luther King Jr and His Opposition to the Vietnam War

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Martin Luther King Jr and His Opposition to the Vietnam War


The American public knew about Martin Luther King long before they had ever heard about the war in Vietnam. King was associated with the war in Vietnam only after accomplishing his finest civil rights works, and after US involvement in Vietnam was already nine years old. They met in 1965, and battled each other until King's death in 1968. By 1965 King saw a federal voter rights bill passed for minorities, had national financial support, and even gained the backing of President Johnson himself. We all know Martin Luther King Jr. as the man who helped desegregate America, as a great civil rights leader. But seldom do we know King as the outspoken anti-war advocate that he was by the end of his life. The government and the media are careful to step away from King's views on the Vietnam War. Some say that speaking out was the biggest mistake of King's life and career. In terms of public support and popularity, King's critics are right to say that it was a mistake to speak against Vietnam. However, King's life and work are evidence that popularity was never his goal. King was justified both in speaking out against the war and in his reasons for opposing it; the things that made him a great civil rights leader were the things that compelled him to speak out against the war.

Before King took a public stance against the Vietnam War, he had already made a great impact on our nation as we know it today. Chiefly because of King's actions, segregation is no longer present in American society. He fought long and hard to gain Blacks equal rights among Whites; to achieve "a symphony of brotherhood" (qtd. in Oates 372). He said in his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail": "We will r...


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...r., Dr. Martin Luther. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ed. Clayborne Carson. New York: Warner Books, 1998.

"Martin Luther King Jr." Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996.

Oates, Stephen B. Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
New York: Harper and Row, 1982.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project. "Major King Events Chronology".
28 June 2002. Stanford University. 24 Oct. 2002.
<http://www.stanford.com/group/King/popular_requests/chronology/Frame.htm> .

WGBH Educational Foundation. Vietnam Online: Timeline. 1997. PBS Online. 28
Oct. 2002. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/time/index.html>

WGBH Educational Foundation. Vietnam Online: Who's Who. 1997. PBS Online. 28
Oct. 2002. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/whos/index.html>


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