Equally important, we strive to carry on his work every day. Dr. King was thoughtful, powerful, and prescient prescient on many important issues, most prominently racism, militarism and poverty. Too, Dr. King understood them to be integrally related.
Few King celebrations delve into his critique of U.S. militarism and, in particular, his principled opposition to nuclear weapons. So, on this, his special day, we offer for your reflection, two of Dr. King’s thoughts on nuclear disarmament.
In the last Sunday sermon he preached, days before his assassination in 1968, King said:
“It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence or nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.”
As early as 1957, King spoke of banning the bomb:
“The development and use of nuclear weapons should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic. Hundreds and millions of people would be killed outright by the blast and heat, and by the ionizing radiation produced at the instant of the explosion . . . Even countries not directly hit by bombs would suffer through global fall-outs. All of this leads me to say that the principal objective of all nations must be the total abolition of war. War must be finally eliminated or the whole of mankind will be plunged into the abyss of annihilation.”
And, now, let us take up the mantle. Onward! Together! We have work to do!