August 28th marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It will be aired over and over again. The charismatic orator is forever frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on that August day. No doubt it was a great and historic presentation, profoundly moving and full of dazzling poetry and inspiring images. But he was to give another address no less significant to a much smaller audience on April 4, 1967 in Riverside Church in New York. There King demonstrated his deep understanding of how the system works. He moved beyond a simple race analysis to include class and foreign policy issues. He forcefully denounced the war in Vietnam. He called the U.S. “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and he deplored the “giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism.” Exactly one year later King was assassinated in Memphis where he had gone in solidarity with striking sanitation workers.
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Nobel Peace Prize winner, is one of the 20th century’s most enduring figures. He advocated and practiced civil disobedience and non-violence. He said, “Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics.” He rose to national prominence during the epic Montgomery bus boycott and then went on to spearhead a movement which ended juridical apartheid in the U.S.