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Rare Video of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Civil Rights and Peace

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Published on Jan 17, 2011

Rare excerpts from "The Frank McGee Sunday Report: Martin Luther King Profile," NBC News, May 7, 1967. The symbol behind Dr. King was used by the Chicago Freedom Movement, also known as the Chicago Open Housing Movement, which Dr. King helped lead from 1965-67. Under it was the slogan, coined by movement spokesperson Don Rose, "We're On the Move To End Slums."

In the interview, Dr. King talks with NBC correspondent Tom Petit about why he chose to "take a vigorous stand" against the U. S. government's undeclared war in Vietnam, for which he had received widespread criticism from the news media, civil-rights groups, religious and labor leaders and President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration.

"I cannot overlook the fact that I am a Negro," Dr. King tells Petit, "and that this war is doing a great deal to destroy the lives of thousands and thousands of my brothers and sisters. We are dying physically in disproportionate numbers in Vietnam. ... The other thing is that we are dying spiritually and psychologically in disproportionate numbers at home in the ghettos, and I think the war itself accounts for our spiritual and psychological death here at home."

This is how the struggles for civil rights at home and for peace abroad are "tied together."

Dr. King also answers the charge that the civil-rights movement is "dead" by explaining that it has entered a "new phase ... where we are seeking GENUINE equality, where we are dealing with hard economic and social issues" beyond integrating lunch counters and buses.

In an excerpt from a speech at Cleveland, Ohio, on April 28, 1967, Dr. King answers the critics of his peace stand by branding the Vietnam conflict as "an evil war." "And no matter where it leads," he declares, "no matter what abuses it may bring, I'm gonna tell the truth."

A year later, on March 10, 1968, "The Frank McGee Sunday Report," which had provided Dr. King with a fair platform to explain his views on the Vietnam war, broadcast an hour-long special report on the increasingly costly and divisive conflict.

In his summation, McGee, who was one of the first television network "stars" to publicly express doubts about the war, said: "The grand objective -- the building of a free nation [in South Vietnam] -- is not nearer, but further from realization. In short, the war, as the Administration has defined it, is being lost. ... Laying aside all other arguments, the time is at hand when we must decide whether it is futile to destroy Vietnam in the effort to save it" (Don Oberdorfer, "Tet! Turning Point in the Vietnam War" [Johns Hopkins, UP, 1971, 2001], pp. 272-73).

Three and a half weeks later, on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated at Memphis, Tenn.

For additional background on Dr. King's peace stand, see the following two articles by historian Paul Lee in "The Michigan Citizen" (Detroit):

1) "Dr. King's Decalogue: 'Ten commandments on Viet Nam,'" March 25th-March 31st, 2007:

2) "Dr. King's Decalogue: A postscript," June 10th-June 16th, 2007:

(Video Courtesy of NBC News)

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