Public readings of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam” speech in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara

You're invited to commemorative readings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s prophetic “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara


The Poor People’s Campaign – Central Coast will host commemorative public readings of “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.”

The event will be held on the 55th anniversary of its first presentation.


The speech was originally given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Riverside Church in New York City exactly one year prior to his assassination.

The gathering is designed to honor the life and legacy of King in recognition of the controversial speech, believed by some to be a huge mistake and by others as one of his most important. It was written for King by social activist, historian, and theologian, Vincent Harding.

Readers represent a diverse demographic from San Luis Obispo County and North Santa Barbara County. The speech has been broken into sections and will be read by both English and Spanish-speaking persons. A similar event is also taking place in Santa Barbara, as well as locations throughout the state.

This historic event is free and open to the public and will convene at the corner of East Cook Street and South Broadway in Santa Maria. Some seating will be available.

A partial list of sponsors includes the Santa Barbara County Action Network, Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP, SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) – Santa Maria, SURJ – Santa Barbara, Women’s March Santa Maria Valley, Democratic Club of Santa Maria Valley, and H.O.P.E. (House of Pride & Equality).

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. started the first Poor People’s Campaign to spark a radical revolution of values across the nation. The vision of the Campaign was to build a mass movement beyond the scope of anything the country had seen, but in the days before the first mobilization King was assassinated.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is picking up where King left off 50 years ago. It is building a movement led by poor and impacted folks, building across all lines of division, to topple the interlocking pillars of racism, poverty, militarism, environmental destruction and this country’s distorted moral narrative.

This year’s public readings of “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” are part of a mobilization by the California Poor People’s Campaign building towards the June 18th Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls. This will be a generationally transformative national gathering of poor and low wealth people, state leaders, faith communities, moral allies, unions and partnering organizations.

Prior to the gathering in DC in June, the Poor People’s Campaign 10-stop national mobilizing tour will be in Los Angeles on May 16. Co-chairs Bishop William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis will be present to mobilize,organize, register, engage, educate, and empower people for a movement that votes.

Facebook page for live streaming: (note: people do NOT have to have a Facebook account to view live streaming)

Facebook event page (to RSVP you will be there in person and to invite/share with others to attend, as well!):


Join the Santa Barbara Poor People’s Campaign-Central Coast Region in bringing Dr. King’s full vision alive again on the 55th anniversary of his tragic assassination exactly one year after he delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, as we build toward the June Mass Poor People’s & Low Wage Workers’ Assembly & Moral March on Washington, DC and to the Polls.


Commemorative Public Reading of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s prophetic “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” will feature high school students, mothers, fathers, grandparents, officials, educators, artists, poets, writers, and local community activists.

Register for email confirmation & link. This is a free event.

Thank you in advance.

For those who are unable to attend and want to observe a reading on Zoom (NOT in-person reading) being done in Santa Barbara, please use this link to register on Eventbrite:


The written speech and audio of MLK Jr. speaking: