A 90-second film I did on the costs of police brutality, from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, with a choir performing Christine Rossetti’s poem, “Remember” in the background.
The “Beyond Vietnam” speech excerpted here was given less than a year before Dr. King was killed, in Riverside Church, NYC. Here, Dr. King first broke with his advisors’ strong opposition, to publicly condemn the Vietnam War. It was a strike for “intersectionality”: Dr. King taught that Americans needed to join the struggle against the Vietnam War to make progress on civil rights.
Those two battles felt far apart to people then. In this speech, the world learned that two seemingly separate struggles intersected in powerful, important ways. Forcing poor men to kill foreigners, racism, and poverty all needed to be seen as a larger, shared struggle. Dr. King taught that the American leadership who engaged in police brutality and economic discrimination had not hesitated to draft the poor, nor to unleash their great military on a small nation. None of those wrongs could be fully righted without all of them being worked on together.