05 August 2012

Sunday Viewing: Martin Luther King - 1965 - The Rhyme of History

This interview is interesting for several reasons.

First, it shows what a news discussion program looked like in 1965. One can compare that to the clash of the talking heads that often passes for news discussions today, especially on the mainstream media. It often seems to be a shameful spectacle of sophistry and cynicism.

Secondly, it reminds us of how great movements and protests, even the ones that later come to be viewed as historic, can initially be viewed as 'silly' and 'pointless.'

Thirdly, it is especially meaningful as a reminder that 'the good old days' that people may remember had a particularly ugly and seamy underside of violent repression and the abuse of the weak and the other.

The impulse to evil is not the domain of any particular people or time, but a recurrent problem that must be confronted by each generation, and each individual person, in their own way and calling.

There is always the temptation to look upon such gross injustices as insurmountable, and to simply conclude that things are going to hell in a handbasket, and turn away and to wash our hands of such troubles saying, What is the use of trying, and even further, 'what is truth?'

That is the way of those who who have ceased trying to be human, who have given themselves over to self-absorption, addictions, or despair, who are dying inside, and who when the time comes will make beasts of themselves, to escape the painful fragility of their own insubstantial being.

The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963 as an act of racially motivated terrorism. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Martin Luther King Jr. broadened his support for civil rights to human rights, and spoke out forcefully against the US War in Vietnam in January of 1967. He gave a famous speech linking the civil rights and anti-war movements on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church.

He was assassinated one year to the day on April 4, 1968.

Robert F. Kennedy, another outspoken critic of the war who was running for President, was assassinated a little less than two months later in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.

Richard M. Nixon was elected President. America finally left Vietnam five years later.

Nixon resigned the Presidency on August 9, 1974 upon facing formal impeachment charges of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.