You could hear the deep sadness in the preacher’s voice as he named “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.” With those words, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., launched a scathing indictment of America’s war in Vietnam. It was April 4, 1967.
That first antiwar sermon of his seemed to signal a new high tide of opposition to a brutal set of American policies in Southeast Asia. Just 11 days later, unexpectedly large crowds would come out in New York and San Francisco for the first truly massive antiwar rallies. Back then, a protest of at least a quarter of a million seemed yuge.
King signaled another turning point when he concluded his speech by bringing up “something even more disturbing” — something that would deeply disturb the developing antiwar movement as well. “The war in Vietnam,” he said, “is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”