One way to effectively frame these examples of resistance to U.S. imperialism and repression is to put them into conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 speech “America’s Chief Moral Dilemma.” First, students will quickly activate their background knowledge about Dr. King in preparation for analysis and comparison. Second, the narrow lens that students likely bring about Dr. King as a civil rights leader only will stretch. The Atlantic published a selection of the speech from which teachers can pull excerpts:
The triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. The great problem and the great challenge facing mankind today is to get rid of war...During a period of war, when a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs inevitably suffer. Now I know that there are people who are confused about the war and they say to me and anybody who speaks out against it, ‘You shouldn’t be speaking out. You’re a civil rights leader, and the two issues should not be joined together.’ Well … the two issues are tied together. And I’m going to keep them together.48
After learning new content and analyzing Dr. King’s speech, students can return to the work of finding evidence of dominant narratives and counter narratives in the sources and stories of the unit. Students will also be better prepared to study the connections between socialism and anti-militarism and the work of the War Resisters’ League that is the focus of the next section.