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Congressman John Conyers

Representing the 13th District of Michigan

Conyers & Lewis Lead More Than 50 Members Of Congress In Honoring 50th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Landmark Anti-War Sermon

April 4, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) and Congressman John Lewis, veterans of the civil rights movement, led more than 50 Members of Congress in introducing H.Res. 246, a resolution to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the April 4, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” sermon given by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Riverside Church in Harlem, New York. In the speech, he condemned the Vietnam War and called for a fundamental change in the way the United States conducts foreign policy abroad. 

“I consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to be the greatest American figure of the 20th century. When I introduced the bill to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday, it was not only for his work to promote equality for African-Americans. His advocacy for diplomacy over conflict and for spending on human needs instead of weapons of war, was also one of his enduring contributions to mankind,” Rep. Conyers said.

The resolution highlights many powerful and prophetic passages from the sermon.  It quotes Dr. King’s call for a “true revolution in values,” one that “will lay hand on the world order and say of war, ‘This way of settling differences is not just.” The resolution further emphasizes Dr. King’s warning against prioritizing war spending of that for social welfare, declaring that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” His statement rings true today, as President Trump has proposed a budget that would increase the U.S. military budget—already by far the world’s largest—by $54 billion dollars, while simultaneously proposing draconian cuts to domestic spending.  King called for transformative changes to our nation’s fabric, stating that “We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.’’ The resolution calls on the United States to pursue foreign policy that aligns with Dr. King’s vision for peace by fighting poverty and promoting understanding.

The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Alma Adams (NC-12), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Karen Bass (CA-37), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), André Carson (IN-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Lacy Clay (MO-1), Emanuel Cleaver(MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), Val Demings (FL-10), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), Alcee L . Hastings (FL-20), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hakeem S. Jeffries (NY-08), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Hank Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), Al Lawson (FL-05), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), John Lewis (GA-05), Donald McEachin (VA-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Stacey E. Plaskett (VI), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), David Scott (GA-13), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), and Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24).