Martin Luther King Jr. and the Cold War



Although Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his leadership of the campaign for racial equality at home, he was also a persistent critic of U.S. policies abroad. In the decade after 1956, following his emergence as a national figure, King offered sporadic criticism of selected foreign policy issues within the general framework of cold war anticommunism. He first opposed American involvement in Vietnam in 1965 but abandoned his antiwar stance in the face of unexpectedly sharp attacks. King's failed efforts in Chicago in 1966 led to change in his critique of the cold war. Previously, he had tended to separate domestic issues from foreign affairs, but now he saw the two as intertwined. King now viewed the Vietnam War through a more radical lens, one that equated U.S. involvement with neocolonialism, economic self-interest, and ingrained racism. King continued this more militant dissent until his assassination in April 1968.