Interview with Stokley Carmichael
QUESTION 45
JUDY RICHARDSON:

OK, Tell me about the King speech on Vietnam.

STOKELY CARMICHAEL:

The King speech on Vietnam, of course you must understand the setting, it's made in his church. So, ah, I mean it's his turf. I mean anything he says here, these people will accept, not, ah, for any other reason except for the love they know that the has for them which he himself has demonstrated over years. Ah, they know this. From the fact that, ah, as a man he could get riches doing many other things, speaking in other bigger churches even, but, ah, he totally refused. So, when I say that he's in his turf and they will follow him I don't want to appear that they will just follow him blindly, no, this blind following which he receives from his congregation, he merits from his service and his love of his congregation. So you can understand the setting. He can say everything he said. He wants to, number one, first show that non-violence has to applied everywhere. It cannot be just segregated to the struggle of our people inside the United States. He wants to also show that it must be vital force in the world politics and in world struggle. He comes to break down the isolation of our struggle in the states and to show that the struggle of, ah, discrimination is the same as the struggle of a peasant in a rice paddy. So when he comes to do is to link together the struggle of the Vietnamese and our struggle in a clear sense. He comes to show the necessity to stand up against your own government, to take a proper stand against the government if the government is correct [SIC]. So he come now again to show his law, which he's always said, that there are two laws, man made laws and God's law. But this is the highest step because his breaking of man made laws were breaking of southern laws, laws in the south by south state, which everybody had to condemn. But going against the United States government is another issue. As a matter of fact he depended upon the United States government in its contradiction with the south in his struggle against breaking the laws in the south. But when you go against the United States government, there's nobody upon whom he can call, except God, to help them seriously in his struggle. So, here, whether he knew it or not, he was taking the conscience of his people, not just against the southern sheriff, not against Bull Conner but now against the entire policy of the United States government in its foreign relationship to Vietnam and obviously Vietnam only represented the top, the entire foreign relationship was the same.