Today is the 8th and final day of Pesach, in many Diaspora communities. It is also Easter in most Christian communities. And it is April 4, the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s most profound speech in 1967 and of his death in 1968 — a sacred date to an increasing number of Americans. This last date in past and present will be honored tonight by the reading of Dr. King’s greatest speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” by a group of national truth-tellers. We will explain this third date – today! – in more detail close to the end of this Shalom Report.
Both the final day of Passover and the final day of Holy Week could be described as calling forth an ecstatic vision, affirming and transcending the highest notions of political freedom and justice….
Half a century ago, the nonviolent spiritual leader Martin Luther King, who resisted governmental injustice — racism and war — was murdered on the first anniversary of his speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” In it he prophetically warned the deadly “triplets” haunting America – militarism, racism, and materialism – would ruin America if they were left to fester. Perhaps he used the word “triplets” instead of “trio” to point out they share the same DNA — the impulse to dominate and subjugate. We have watched other forms of the same DNA – sexism, hatred of foreigners, religious bigotry, contempt for the processs of democratic elections and workers’ rights and the free press, contempt for and poisoning of our mothering Earth – bring death and despair to mny Americans.
Dr. King’s ecstatic vision did not call for tha transformation of the natural world. It focused on the transformation of human society:
“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed 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.
“A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
“This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men.
“Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.
“We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.”
Dr. King has been immortalized in many ways – a national holy day in his name, the creation of the Freedom Seder and its being first held on April 4 — the first anniversary of his death—and in many instances for the last half century on a date very close. For the 50th anniversary, on April 7, 2019, a Freedom Seder held in a Philadelphia Mosque, the Freedom Seder built to a climax with the Prophetic speech of Reverend William Barber II, who drew on Jeremiah to call for a march to the “royal palace” — the White House — of our own corrupt and murderous king.
And now there has arisen a new way of calling out the Prophet Martin’s truth. This very evening, at 7 pm Eastern time, a band of national leaders will take turns reading his speech about the deadly triplets. Here is how you can join in the moment:
The Shalom Center is a co-sponsor of the reading…
With blessings of freedom and eco/ social justice,