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MLK’s peace legacy

Posted January 16th, 2012 by UHDS News

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is best remembered as a civil rights leaders whose Aug. 28, 1963 “I have a dream … ” speech inspired a generation. In it, he challenged the crowd of 300,000 in Washington, D.C., to pursue a society in which people are judged not for the color of their skin but for the content of their character.

But on April 4, 1967, King delivered another speech at New York City’s Riverside Church  — and in it, he was just as impassioned in calling for an end to the Vietnam War:

“We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation,” King said in the “Beyond Vietnam” speech. “The choice is ours and — though we might prefer it otherwise — we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.”

His words echoed Monday morning through the Memorial Union Ballroom at Oregon State University, where the the 300 people in attendance observed the national holiday at OSU’s 30th annual Peace Brunch.

Keynote speaker Robert Thompson, an African-American studies professor in OSU’s ethnic studies department, said the New York peace speech signaled a moment in King’s intellectual journey where his “stance on nonviolence became more assertive.” There, King spoke precisely on the U.S.’s role in fostering what Thompson called the “triplets of misery”: racism, economic inequality and American imperialism.

President Ed Ray reflected on the April 1967 peace speech in his remarks by acknowledging that King knew he would spark controversy with his firm anti-war stance. Ray said he wondered if King felt a sense of urgency with his words; King was assassinated exactly a year later in Memphis.

“We need to sustain this struggle,” Ray said.

The brunch included performance by Outspoken, OSU’s men’s a capella group, poetry recited by OSU student Anderson DuBoise III, a traditional strolling presentation by a fraternity and sorority, and an awards presentation.

Eric Hansen, the associate director of University Housing and Dining Services, was presented with the Phyllis S. Lee Award. It is named after the former director of OSU’s office of multicultural affairs. Jodi Nelson, the executive assistant to the vice provost of student affairs, was presented with the Frances Dancy Hooks Award, who is named after the civil rights activist who joined her husband at the university in 1994 to give the keynote address at the Peace Brunch.

Read the full article: “MLK’s peace legacy.” Story by Gail Cole. Photos by Jesse Skoubo. Corvallis Gazette-Times.

 

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