Friday, May 16, 2014
Tomorrow marks the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s last large-scale public address in the San Francisco Bay Area, an antiwar speech in front of 7,000 in Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley. I was about five months late to attend the event, since I didn't arrive at Cal as a freshman until September.
The San Francisco Chronicle today features a front page article on the speech:
The speech came a month after King had shifted his focus to an antiwar stance. In addition to conservatives, King also received heavy criticism from the left-leaning side of his base. The NAACP released a statement a month before the Berkeley speech, calling King's attempts to merge the civil rights and peace movements a "serious tactical mistake."
King was unwavering, telling the Berkeley crowd Vietnam was "a mad adventure" and a "tragic, unjust and evil war."
"It costs $500,000 to kill every enemy soldier while we spend only $53 a year for every poor person," King told the crowd. "We seem more concerned with winning an unwinnable war in Vietnam than in winning the war against poverty right here at home."
That quote really struck me, so I thought I would share it. Seems to me, the country continues to have its priorities wrong, as we continue to neglect the wars on poverty, racism, and against xenophobia.