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I can’t find a transcription of this speech that is correct.  All of the versions available leave out critical bits of this speech.  They leave out the mention of spending too much on military bases instead of bases of genuine concern, etc.  A typical example of the attempt to de-radicalize the good Rev. King.   Listen to this in its entirety.


“My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”


“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”

It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

I have pulled some quotes from this speech but reading or listening to the speech in its entirety is the only way to do this speech justice.  Please do.  Here is the speech in full text w/an audio:


North Carolina is a state with a rich history of reproductive struggle.  As one of the only states with a eugenics program that survived WWII and thrived into the late 70’s, we stand a relic, a link to the often-forgotten past – the last page in an unsettling chapter of our nation’s history.  While some might claim that “it was a different time then” and “nothing like that would ever happen now,”  NC is home to an estimated 1,500 – 2,000 living survivors of sterilization by the state who were recently denied compensation for said travesty just this past summer.   An estimated total of 7,500 people were either coerced into consent, forced by law, or were simply sterilized with out their knowledge during otherwise routine procedures, like, say – childbirth – during the reign of the NC Eugenics Board.

At the same time that mostly poor women of color were being preyed upon by “public health” officials, white women of the day were being denied sterilization because 1) they were the ideal race 2) their husbands wanted kids/more kids.

That being said, apparently, NC was fairly progressive in terms of abortion access some six years before the days of Roe v. Wade, though I cannot guarantee the purity of their intentions  – I honestly think it was somehow related to the eugenics program, but maybe I am paranoid.  A quick google search could probably solve this.  OH YEAH – and not only did they have this abortion access, though limited, that allowed for  “women to have abortions in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and when the woman’s health was endangered,” but they also set up a state abortion fund subsequent to the passage of Roe v. Wade when the Hyde amendment removed the affordability portion of the concept of “access” by barring medicaid from covering the procedure.  Jerks.

For those of you unfamiliar with the recent goings -on of the NC general assembly, the still-contested Women’s Right to Know Act, one of the multitudes of misnomers in the anti-choice effort, forces women and other people seeking abortion services to submit to government mandated, biased, BULL SHIT reading of “information” that has no basis in medical practice.  They must endure a waiting period that requires a patient make 2 visits and potentially, depending on which judge this matter falls to (its under an injunction), hear the heartbeat/endure a description of the fetus.  Yay.

I’m not a fan of the two-party system, but I can say honestly that this attack rests squarely on the shoulders of the Republican party and those asses need to cut the crap.  There I said it.

So — this little rant here, this is just a brief glossing over of NC, and I am sad to say that there are plenty of states whose histories and recent news lines read the same.  For instance, thanks to the efforts of anti-choice lawmakers and lobbyists, the closing of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi looks at this juncture to be an inevitability.  If you’ve checked out Mississippi’s poverty rates recently……nvm.  Logic won’t work this time.

And as if this all wasn’t enough to remind us of the need to fight to full reproductive choice and continue the struggle for reproductive justice for all……Check out what I found on DemocracyNOW

“A new study shows hundreds of women in the United States have been arrested, forced to undergo unwanted medical procedures, and locked up in jails or psychiatric institutions, because they were pregnant. National Advocates for Pregnant Women found 413 cases when pregnant women were deprived of their physical liberty between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. At least 250 more interventions have taken place since then. In one case, a court ordered a critically ill woman in Washington, D.C., to undergo a C-section against her will. Neither she nor the baby survived. In another case, a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion.”

I put a link down at the bottom there if ya wanna check out the interview in its entirety.

“So what is the point of this post?!?” you ask.  Well – I guess I wanted to illustrate that the fight for “choice” and the right to abortion is important – but only if it is considered as a part of the larger language of the reproductive justice framework.  The history of our country, and of states like NC in particular, exemplifies the need to consider the multiple stories and relationships that women and other people have had to this concept of “choice.”

As usual, SisterSong puts it best:

“The reproductive justice framework – the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments — is based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life, and the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions.”

So while defending access to abortion is important, please consider it just one of many other issues that need tackling in order to expand full reproductive choice for all people.

There are a number of intersections that I did not address, as I had intended this be a short piece to commemorate and remind, but consider, too, how issues related to freedom to adequate and safe housing, water, soil, air, nutritious and affordable food, healthcare, employment, leisure – ALL of these things should be considered when we utter this word: CHOICE.


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