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Dr. King Marches Against the War in Viet Nam, March 1967Peace Button

Browse photos of the march.

On March 25 1967, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led 5,000 people down State Street in Chicago to protest the war in Viet Nam. This was the first anti-war march that Dr. King had joined, and one more step in his increasingly vocal opposition to the war.
Dr. King had never been neutral on the war in Viet Nam but he had been silent. He felt, as did the leaders of most other civil rights organizations, that the movement should concentrate on the domestic struggle. They were concerned that opposition to President Johnson's foreign policy would result in loss of support for passing and enforcing civil rights laws at home.
Nonetheless, many in the civil rights movement were angry when Johnson sent 3,500 combat troops to Viet Nam on March 7, 1965, while ignoring attacks by Alabama state troopers on people trying to walk from Selma to Montgomery demanding the right to vote. On July 5 1965, Dr. King told a college audience in Virginia that "the war in Viet Nam must be stopped." His friends and contacts in the Johnson Administration told him he was treading in dangerous waters and should back off.
Veterans for Peace By 1967 Dr. King was ready to speak his mind publicly. His first statement was made on February 25 at an anti-war conference in California, along with several Senators who also opposed the war. He said it was immoral and also took money and attention from the anti-poverty program. A week before the Chicago march he agreed to participate in the Spring Mobilization Against the War in New York City on April 15.
After the walk down State Street on March 25, Dr. King addressed a rally. The following are excerpts of his speech:

Poverty, urban problems and social progress generally are ignored when the guns of war become a national obsession. When it is not our security that is at stake, but questionable and vague commitments to reactionary regimes, values disintegrate into foolish and adolescent slogans.
America is a great nation,... [b]ut honesty impels me to admit that our power has often made us arrogant. We feel that our money can do anything. We arrogantly feel that we have some divine, messianic mission to police the whole world. We are arrogant in not allowing young nations to go through the same growing pains, turbulence and revolution that characterizes our history...
We arm Negro soldiers to kill on foreign battlefields but offer little protection for their relatives from beatings and killings in our own South....
All of this reveals that our nation has not yet used its vast resources of power to end the long night of poverty, racism and man's inhumanity to man. Enlarged power means enlarged peril if there is not concomitant growth of the soul. Genuine power is the right use of strength. If our nation's strength is not used responsibly and with restraint, it will be, following Acton's dictum, power that tends to corrupt and absolute power that corrupts absolutely.
Our arrogance can be our doom. It can bring the curtains down on our national drama. Ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation. We are challenged in these turbulent days to use our power to speed up the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."
Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Viet Nam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. There can be no great disappointment where there is no great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road which can lead to national disaster...
Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace. We must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, teach and preach, until the very foundations of our nation are shaken. We must work unceasingly to lift this nation that we love to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humaneness.


Photos of Dr. King's Chicago March by Jo Freeman

Please click on thumbnails to view the complete image

M.L. King, Al Raby, Bernard Lee and Jack Spiegel

Dr. Martin Luther King talks to Al Raby of Chicago's Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) as they lead the march down State Street. To King's right is Jack Spiegel of the United Shoeworkers, and to Raby's left is King assistant Bernard Lee.

 
Veterans march against the war

Veterans from earlier wars demand peace in this war.

 

Veterans  for Peace

Veterans for Peace get ready to march.

 
Ben Spock and Martin Luther King   Protestors with banner

 

Dr. Benjamin Spock joins Dr. King and Bernard Lee in the front line.

 

 
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While others line up on the side.

 

Signs express people's sentiments.

Peace placard   Peace placards

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Peace placard   Peace placard

 

Peace placard   Peace placard
 
Counter-demonstrators

A few opponents of the march protest from the sidewalk.

 
Martin Luther King

Dr. King addresses the closing rally at the Coliseum.


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