Books have the power to profoundly impact our lives. In 2006, I found an audiobook copy of A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. at my local library. I had some familiarity with King’s work prior to listening to that book, and his autobiography in quick succession, but not much. Those two books changed all of that for me. He was of course a supremely gifted orator and it is a blessing to live in an age where his speeches have been preserved for future generations. Those speeches inform my personal theological stances and have stayed with me ever since.
One of the speeches in the collection truly stood out for me. It is one that likely got him into a good deal of trouble with those who maintain the Domination System in American political life because he was critical of U.S. foreign policy and capitalism. In it, King evinces a strong understanding of intersectionality, how systems of power are interwoven and thus impact the most marginalized in society without regards to things such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors which pushes people to the margins. In the speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” Dr. King brilliantly shows how the American economic and political systems are used to oppress the poor, be they white, black, brown, or any other color that flash comes in. He challenges his listeners to break the silence, to see the connections, and to act. Since my first time listening to this important speech, I have listened to it again multiple times on the day we celebrate his life and legacy. I did so again this morning and it remains so powerful, so relevant, and so necessary for people today and so I encourage to listen, to think, and to act nonviolently and with compassion to bring about peace for humanity.
There is a link to the complete speech here: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
Link to the book:
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