MLK Beyond Vietnam

In 1967 MLK delivered a prophetic speech. I want you to help commemorate the 50th anniversary.

Links and Resources at the bottom of the Page.
Read some excerpts from the speech Learn all about Supporters & Sponsors

What is the Project?

Moral principles should provide a foundation to the choice of what to actually do

Moral principles should provide a foundation to the choice of what to actually do

Our Better Future is organizing three events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam – A Time To Break Silence” delivered in NYC exactly one year before his assassination. The National Council of Elders has encouraged people to create events commemorating the speech – gatherings of local people to hear the speech and spend time together. Our Better Future has taken up the challenge for Northern Westchester and is organizing three separate events for May 21st, 2017 – one in Peekskill, one in Katonah / Bedford, and one in Ossining.

Why this Project?

During these rapidly darkening times we need to cleave to simple moral principles as a foundation for understanding what actually needs to be done. The speech is not only relevant but essential to our times.

All the manifestations of the unjust and destructive forces in our world spring from a small number of causes, and all our efforts against them spring from a small number of real values.

Our most recent lurch toward fascist idiocracy is a predictable step down the road our country has been travelling for a long time.

I’m sending this to everyone I know in Northern Westchester who is working on or interested in issues of racial and social justice, broadly considered. I’m coming to realize, especially during these rapidly darkening times, that all our work for change is part of one larger intention.

What Next?

I want you to help! Maybe you’d like to be one of the organizers. Maybe you’d like to volunteer. Maybe you’d like to support Our Better Future in its first Crowdfunding and Awareness Campaign (which can be found here ( Maybe you’d like to help get the word out once the details are solidified.

If you’d like to participate in any way, or you have a comment or suggestion, please use the Communication Box at the bottom of the page.

These events are just one manifestation of multiple OBF projects intended to find new ways to work together for transformation in Northern Westchester. You can learn more here here ( or here ( You can support OBF here (

The commemoration events are pretty straight-forward. A venue, some readers, and the participation of as many local transformation warriors – individuals and groups – as possible. The motivation goes beyond honoring the speech to include providing an opportunity for deep networking, strengthening existing coalitions, and planting the seeds for new collaborations.

I’m taking the organizational lead for the Peekskill event. OBF will provide centralized promotion and support. Melissa Boyer has offered Katonah SPACE as host for the Katonah / Bedford event. We need organizers for the Katonah / Bedford event and the Ossining event and a venue for the Ossining event. The lead organizer role includes recruiting helpers, finding a venue and readers, and contacting local individuals and groups interested in joining the coalition.

Tax-deductible sponsorships and donations can be made through OBF to cover expenses and support participating groups. Organizers and volunteers who are interested can solicit support from their communities.

Those of you on Facebook, I’ve taken the liberty of adding you to the secret planning group. If you’d prefer not to be a participant in the group, please accept my apologies and un-join. The planning group will host a conference call on Sunday afternoon.


OBF believes there’s tremendous potential in Northern Westchester, potential to be a nationally significant hotbed of progressive values, resistance, and models of new ways of working and living together. OBF also believes that without similar hotbeds in other communities across the country, our slim chance to actually save the world might in the end become no chance at all.

A little more about Why

It may seem that your work – whether in social justice, pipeline opposition, education, protest, politics, food, energy, environment, faith initiatives and so many others – is separate from other endeavors. In only three statements the Beyond Vietnam speech articulates the common threads that unite all our work.

“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

If we don’t stop our country’s destructive activities, “the world will be left with no other alternative than to see [our choices] as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve.”

MLK forcefully articulates the causes of the conditions he dedicated his life to changing. OBF sees these commemoration events as vital opportunities to revisit that articulation. To have a realistic chance at creating real change the good-hearted people of Northern Westchester need to find their commonality and create new coalitions.

** Links and Resources **

These events are just one manifestation of multiple OBF projects intended to find new ways to work together for transformation in Northern Westchester. You can learn more here here ( or here ( You can support OBF here (

National Council of Elders on Commemoration Events here (

Dedicated website for Commemoration Events here (

The full text of the speech here (

Audio recording of the speech uploaded by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change here (

Read my selected quotations from the speech here (

The Activism Segment on Best of the Left where I first learned of the Commemoration Events here (

David Sirota interviews Vince Harding, who helped write the speech here (

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now discusses the anniversary of “Beyond Vietnam” and the speech’s relevance for today here (

Jeremy Scahill, on his excellent podcast “Intercepted,” in introducing his interview with Tavis Smiley on “Beyond Vietnam”, refers to the whitewashed version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s like and work as cartoonish. (Transcript on Intercepted website here ( Audio here (segment begins at 27:30) (

Tavis Smiley on PBS here (

Varieties of American Experience

Varieties of American Experience

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