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 Peace News: Celebrate and Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this January

HolidaysFrom: United for Peace & Justice

This January 17th our nation will celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most visionary civil rights leaders and nonviolence practitioners in history, who offered a moral compass to guide our way toward peace and justice. Dr. King understood that an injustice anywhere was an injustice everywhere. He believed in raising all boats and was willing to put his life on the line to protect the most vulnerable among us. He knew that speaking out on critical issues -- like war, racism and poverty – was an obligation for any person of conscience.

While Dr. King is officially remembered for his groundbreaking civil rights leadership, he was also an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy. King was criticized for speaking out against the war. He was told that he should tend to the concerns of Black people and civil rights, and that the war was not his purview. Other civil rights leaders began to distance themselves from him, but he was not deterred. In a letter to Southern Christian Leadership Conference members who withdrew their support Dr. King clarified his opposition to the war.

I am sorry that my recent speeches on Vietnam has cost us your support. However, I feel that war is no longer, if it ever was, a valid way to solve international problems. Even the negative good served by a war against an evil force such as Hitler can no longer be considered worth the costly risk to mankind, for the ultimate weapons of today mean only the destruction of mankind. Man can no longer afford war. We must find a non-violent way to settle the problems of the world. (Read the full letter here) ...



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Those lessons are as important today as they were back in the 1960’s. Since its inception, the United States has waged war on people of color, poor people and the planet itself. While the country was founded by revolutionaries seeking freedom from a king, it was founded on the backs of others, endlessly gobbling up resources as it expanded westward – a practice which has expanded to encompass the globe. We must work to undo this legacy and Dr. King helps us understand the way.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Today, we must continually strive to equalize power, use privilege strategically and share resources sustainably. Sometimes even our best efforts do not realize our goals, so we must slow down and re-assess. We can take small but meaningful steps to build solidarity and relationships among groups of differing power and privilege. We all have work to do in this area, and in light of the right wing rise to power, we better get back to the hard work of organizing and building bases of people power in communities across this nation!

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, please join with others in your community who are commemorating the life and work of this important man and bring messages of peace and justice to share.

Here are ways you can commemorate Dr. King:

1. Find out your local activities and promote to your community

2. Organize your friends or allies to march in your local MLK march

3. Promote peace and justice: Download these posters. Make extra copies to share, people always want them!

4. Educate: Download, copy and distribute this flier

5. Activate: Organize a public reading of Dr. King’s prophetic speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence. Click here to download our organizing kit.

6. Keep MLK present everyday and begin building new relationships with groups in your community working on economic and racial justice!

In Solidarity,



The UFPJ Coordinating Committee
Cole Harrison, United for Justice with Peace (Boston)
Gael Murphy, CODEPINK Women for Peace
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation
Lee Siu Hin, National Immigrant Solidarity Network
Lisa Fithian, Alliance of Community Trainers, UFPJ Co-Convener
Michael Eisenscher, US Labor Against the War
Michael McPhearson, Veterans For Peace, UFPJ Co-Convener
Rusti Eisenberg, Brooklyn for Peace
Siri Margerin, Bay Area United for Peace & Justice
Terry Rockefeller, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Help us continue to do this critical work: Make a donation to UFPJ today.
UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
www.unitedforpeace.org | 212-868-5545
PO Box 607; Times Square Station; New York, NY 10108


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[12 January 2011]



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