7. Riverside Church (1967)
On April 4, 1967, King delivered his speech “Beyond Vietnam” at Riverside Church on 121st Street. A denunciation of the war in Vietnam and indictment of American imperialism, the speech linked critiques of U.S. foreign and domestic policies. King laments, “We have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.”
During his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama frequently cited the “fierce urgency of now,” a phrase King employed during the speech. Meanwhile The New York Times blasted King in an editorial titled “Dr. King’s Error.” LBJ fumed at MLK’s “betrayal” on Vietnam, which severed a relationship that, contrary to its presentation in the movie Selma, had been one of cooperation and amicability. Eerily, King’s sermon at Riverside took place exactly a year before he was killed.