Martin Luther King Jr.

The name evokes many emotions and lots of descriptions of who he was. A minister. A civil rights activist. A man of peace.

What is most often forgotten is how he was a man that opposed war and in particular, the Vietnam War. It was his opposition to the war that ultimately caused his murder.

People in power don’t want influential people to speak the truth. Dr. King did this in his famous speech in 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York City. It was “ Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.”

In this speech, Dr. King spoke of the 3 values that permeated our nation: racism, militarism and materialism. It was a time when blacks were beaten and killed, bombs and napalm were were being dropped on Vietnamese farm villages and corporations were becoming rich building weapons of war.

The FBI throughout this time harassed Dr. King to the point of suggesting he take his own life. That’s what happens to those that oppose racism and war. A year after his infamous speech, he was dead.

Killed because of what he stood for. Killed for pulling back the curtain that hides the ugliness and violence that is our society.

Fast forward 50-plus years later and it seems we haven’t learned a damn thing from Dr. King.

Our leaders continue to build more weapons to a point of lunacy. Our nation’s schools are underfunded. Our healthcare system is In shambles. White Supremacy is the platform for one of our two major political parties.

Many states have passed laws that make it harder for minorities to vote (Jim Crow repackaged) and that prohibit teaching our students the truth about slavery and genocide. We flood our streets with guns and drugs and then wonder why there are so many mass killings in our streets.

We destroy what little wild places we have left to extract more riches that make a select few very rich and most others in debt. Our prisons are full of people too poor to buy freedom.

I think Dr. King would be very sad to see how little we learned from him. Seems all we’ve done is give him a holiday and say he was a man of peace. Dr. King warned us then about what is wrong with what we value.

Too bad we didn’t truly hear.

Tim Melin


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