DC Socrates Salon
The program will open at the National Museum of American History with a tour of a new exhibit, City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, led by Aaron Bryant, the Mellon Curator of Photography at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. After lunch at the Aspen Institute, the seminar will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuition for this seminar is $100.
A Time to Break Silence: The Words and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a crowd at the venerable Riverside Church, in New York’s Upper West Side, to deliver a searing speech about Vietnam that signaled his transition from a southern leader to a human rights leader whose words and audience extended well past the recognized borders of the USA. His emergence in the international struggle of North and South was summed up in a repudiation of American foreign and domestic policy born of three evils – racism, capitalism, and militarism:
I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], 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, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A year later, King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. On the 50th anniversary of this somber date, we will examine permanence of King’s Riverside speech as we ponder many questions together. How do his words in 1967 – of a choice between “nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation;” of a country “on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor;” and of a “cruel manipulation” that sent young black men to die fighting for rights they did not have in their own country – resonate today? This seminar will explore King’s speech in conversation with contemporary writers taking on the “giant triplets” King diagnosed half a century ago. Has there been progress? Regression? Where do we stand today in the “long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world”?
Moderated by Reverend Jennifer Bailey, Founder and Executive Director of the Faith Matters Network (FMN)