Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence MLK April 4th, 1967

April 4th was the anniversary of the day that Rev. Martin Luther King gave his “A Time to Break Silence” speech at Riverside Church in New York City. One might think that a speech given 50 years ago wouldn’t be describing a problem that is still relevant today, but his words are still ringing of true concern.

Yesterday I attended a reading of this entire speech at Oakland University. With a group of about 25 students and faculty, the same words that were spoken 50 years ago were read aloud in a sort of popcorn reading fashion. As each student began to read their section I was following along with the printed out copy that they provided. As it got toward the middle of the speech I was starting to realize that some of the problems and issues that MLK was presenting to these people so long ago are still problems and issues that we are dealing with today.

One section especially rang true and I am going to quote it directly.

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”Think about this, these words were spoken 50 years ago but do these words not ring true in today’s society? Even if it is just a little bit.

Think about this, these words were spoken 50 years ago but do these words not ring true in today’s society? Even if it is just a little bit.

The Morning Call had even put out an article, one of the many that I found, that talked about these exact words and posing a question. “How can we not listen to these words?

After the reading of the speech, the floor was open to discussion. Although not a lot of people decided to share their words, the ones who did speak brought up the fact that you would think the problems he talked about 50 years ago would have been solved by now but in fact many people think they are worse than ever.