A Time to Break Silence

Cuong Do
Elang 105


The speech was given by Martin Luther King, Jr., who was one of few black members of a multi-faith organization called National Emergency Committee of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam (CALCAV). “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence” is the second of the two speeches that King gave about the Vietnam War. It was given on April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York with the help of CALCAV. The event drew in 3,000 people which helped raise the highest amount of donations for the anti-war movement. After this event King became the co-chair of the organization and then helped proceed with activities to protest against the war in Vietnam.
The audience at the speech was mostly clergy and laity that were concerned about the Vietnam War. However, King’s targeted audience was American citizens as well as the U.S. government. The purpose of the speech is to encourage the people to put pressure on the U.S. government to stop the war in Vietnam. King achieves this purpose through a three-step process: 1) Building up credibility, 2) Informing the audience about the truth behind the Vietnam War, what the government is actually doing, and 3) Using these facts to trigger the emotions and to create a desire for a change. King uses rhetorical questions to execute his three-step plan and these questions help him accomplish the overall purpose of the speech.
King spends a considerable amount of time during the first part of the speech establishing his credibility because many people question his decision to speak about wars. He had been met with countless questions that had the same connotation, “Why are you, a civil rights leader, discussing the matters of the war?” In response to those doubts, King brings up several rhetorical questions to justify his credibility. This is a very important for King to establish trust between him and the audience because if the...