Did Dr. Martin Luther King talk about nuclear weapons?

Dr. King Warns About Nuclear Annihilation

On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the greatest followers of the nonviolence of Jesus and Gandhi in our culture, we must listen to his articulation of nonviolence that comes from his own lived experience.  He warned us that if we stay on the path we are on, that nuclear co-annihilation would be inevitable.  The elimination of nuclear weapons is at the basis of his hope for universal justice and peace.
Rev Bill Bichsel, S.J.

“It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence.  It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.
“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question–is it politic?
Vanity asks the question–is it popular? Conscience asks the question–is it right?
There comes a time when one must take the position that it is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.  I believe today that there is a need for all people of good will to come with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “We ain’t goin’ study war no more.”

(Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, Passion Sunday sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, on March 31, 1968)

“In a world facing the revolt of ragged and hungry masses of God’s children; in a world torn between the tensions of East and West, white and colored, individualists and collectivists; in a world whose cultural and spiritual power lags so far behind her technological capabilities that we live each day on the verge of nuclear co-annihilation; in this world, nonviolence is no longer an option of intellectual analysis, it is an imperative for action.”

(The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967)

2 Responses

  1. Dr. King’s memory is celebrated in many ways this month and next during Black History Month. My 5 year old son and my son in daycare both worked on collages illustrating black and white unity. For a boy particularly, for boys in urban schools, like the ones where my sons attend, the necessity of nonviolence in King’s belief system is barely mentioned. The same as the media culture at large. Why is this? Is it because they feel his committment to nonviolence would cast a cloud over our celebration of this American hero because of our eschewing nonviolence in our culture?

  2. Hello

    I’ve recently uploaded two rare interviews with the Wobblie, anarchist, and activist Dorothy Day.

    Day had begun her service to the poor in New York City during the Depression with Peter Maurin, and it continued until her death in 1980. Their dedication to administering to the homeless, elderly, and disenfranchised continues in many parts of the world.

    Please post or announce the availability of these videos for those who may be interested in hearing this remarkable humanist.

    They may be located here:


    Thank you

    Dean Taylor

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