King Asks for Viet Vote


Fifth Estate # 37, September 1-15, 1967

ATLANTA, GA.—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has announced a nationwide campaign “to give Americans an opportunity to vote on the Vietnam war -through the time honored institutions of initiative and referendum.”

The campaign, supported by the organization Vietnam Summer, seeks to place anti-war referenda or initiative petitions on local and state ballots across the nation this fall and next Spring. Projects are already underway in over a dozen localities including Detroit and Ann Arbor.

“Congress and the President,” stated Dr. King, “have been unresponsive or indifferent in the face of deepening grassroots opposition to our policies in Vietnam. The local initiative is a unique and dramatic way for our people to deliver their mandate against the war.”

Dr. King noted that last year in Dearborn a referendum calling for “an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam” received 40% of the vote. “Vietnam Summer volunteers and other anti-war groups,” he said. “are already working to place similar initiatives on the ballot in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Cleveland, New York, Cambridge, Marin County, California, and the State of Wisconsin.”

According to King, “the exact means and wording of the initiatives vary from area to area, depending on local and state laws as well as the nature of each constituency.” but most call for a withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam.”

“In April,” he said, “I was among those who called for a Vietnam Summer-1967, asking for 10,000 volunteers to work in 500 communities across the country. Today there are 26,000 volunteers working in over 700 communities throughout the nation. Our energies and local organizations can help provide the manpower to bring this issue to the community and allow the voice of the community to be heard.”

Dr. King expressed the hope that other communities would join in the initiative campaign. “Twelve thousand American lives have already been lost. And while our cities decay, while our domestic programs are drastically cut back, we are spending $16,000 a minute, every minute of the day, on one of history’s most cruel and senseless wars.”