Dr. King, an opponent of the Vietnam War, denounced America's involvement in a series of speeches at rallies and demonstrations. His first speech on the war itself, in 1967, was called “Beyond Vietnam” and was delivered exactly one year before his assassination. In it, he criticized the US government, insisting it was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”
“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 countries, and say, ‘This is not just.’ ”
Later that year, King commented on the “cruel irony” of black Americans dying for a country that treats them as second-class citizens.
“We were taking the young black men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties, which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem,” he said. “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 in the same schools.”
King’s opposition to the Vietnam War cost him many white allies, including President Lyndon Johnson and many members of the media. Criticizing one of his speeches, Life magazine called it “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi.” The Washington Post also said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people.”