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Breaking the Silence

Monday, April 5, 2021
7-8:30pm EDT

NOTE: The national event, organized by , will be held Sunday, April 4, 7pm EDT. April 4 is the 53rd anniversary of MLK's martyrdom in Memphis; it is also the 54th anniversary of MLK's delivery of this historic speeck at Riverside Church in New York City.. In Cleveland, we will hold our online event on Monday, April 5, 7pm EDT.

From Cleveland Peace Action: We invite you to join us in an intersectional local event to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Time to Break the Silence” speech of April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York City. This historic speech condemned US militarism, racism and poverty, and represented a significant expansion of Dr. King’s thinking on the root causes of the challenges U.S. society faced.

We will read excerpts from Dr. King’s speech, then discuss the implications for NE Ohio today: Monday, April 5 at 7 pm on Zoom – register here

“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” was delivered to an overflow crowd at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 at the invitation of Clergy and Laity Concerned (CALC). Dr. King’s challenge to engage in a radical revolution of values encountered ferocious opposition. Mainstream media castigated him for speaking out about foreign policy, consigning his expertise only to racial justice. Civil rights leaders criticized him for diluting the single focus on racism. Rev. Dr. King replied that he was continuing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) commitment to “save the soul of America,” by calling for an end to the devastation in Vietnam and the stagnation and decay of the war on poverty in the U.S. As a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Award, he felt he had the responsibility to speak out for peace. For some, his “Breaking Silence” speech was the primary reason he was killed exactly one year later to the day. By confronting the deeply rooted racism, militarism, and materialism of the United States, Dr. King described the United States as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.

Co-sponsoring organizations include Cleveland Peace Action, The Cleveland Observer,  Cleveland Nonviolence Network, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus , End Poverty Now!, Ohio Poor People’s Campaign, Coalition for a Better Life (dba Peace in the Hood, Inc), Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Black Spring Cleveland, IRTF. 

Our local work is in coordination with the national Breaking the Silence effort. This coalition is conducting a national event and supporting creation of local events. Their multi-year purpose includes encouraging formation of local coalitions to work on these intersectional issues going forward to drive change and transformation. The national event will be held on April 4, 2021, the 54th anniversary of the speech.

Local contacts: