A Time to Break Silence: Series on A Time to Break Silence #1

Fifty years ago this month Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of his dream, including that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We are closer now, though we are still a long way from fully embodying this dream.

In the month of the anniversary of King’s birthday and this often quoted speech my thoughts, however, go to a different oration. One that I rarely hear quoted. While the words of King’s dream stirred my imagination, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence* shook me awake and brought me to my feet, breathless.

I was in junior high school when King delivered this speech at Riverside Church in New York City in 1967. King was talking about the war that spanned my growing up years, one that is history now. But his words reverberate with a truth that is as relevant and crucial today as it was forty-six years ago. King saw and proclaimed the complex web that connected economics, race and war.

In gratitude to King for his courage to speak, an act that flowed out of love for his country and all of his fellow citizens, I will focus the next few blogs on A Time to Break Silence.

What else can I do?  It is, indeed, a time to break silence.

*Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Beyond Vietnam–A Time to Break Silence, Delivered April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City

First in a six part series. The next in the series is titled “I Must Speak.”

4 thoughts on “A Time to Break Silence: Series on A Time to Break Silence #1

  1. Nancy, thanks for sharing this. I’ve written several letters to my organization sharing my distress about the untimely and unexpected departure of our executive director with zero explanation from the Board. My letters have been met by many vociferous voices shouting me down. As I read MLK’s letter and your thoughts, I realize it is my place to write one more time (and then maybe one more after that) and urge my colleagues to write privately to the Board with their thoughts so the Board gets the feedback from members who are afraid to bring voice in the midst of the shouting. Thank you for the encouragement to see this through to another level. No more silence.

  2. You bring up several fascinating points. One is a willingness to find the best avenue(s) to speak. The other is the agony that comes when an organization dear to our hearts (I may be making a leap here, but you refer to it as “my” organization) acts in ways that are out of alignment with their vision and mission. In this case, the organization’s action involved a deafening silence about an critical departure of the executive director. Like King, breaking silence to those people and organizations we love dearly requires a demanding mix of remembering what we know about the heart of the organization, looking inside to clear out any of our own distress that clouds the central issues at hand and then speaking of the impact of their behavior on you and the organization at large. Hard as it is, we must speak.

  3. Thank you for your continued musings and insights Nancy. I ‘m so grateful for your process as it has most surely enhanced my own. Keep Inspiring!

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