In January of 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., en route to Jamaica for a vacation, picked up a copy of Ramparts magazine and sat down to read a story about the plight of Vietnam’s children. According to his assistant, Bernard Lee, King froze as he saw the photos — including one of a Vietnamese mother holding her dead child — that accompanied the story. It was then, Lee claims, that King made up his mind to forcefully oppose the war in Vietnam.
The story of King’s conversion into an anti-war activist is one worth considering today, amid war rumblings over Syria and commemorations in Washington of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Had he not been assassinated, King may well have woken up one day last week and been equally horrified at the images of dead Syrian children in the arms of their mothers.