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martin luther king jr. i have a dream

11 facts about the modern peace movement

On this day on 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech left an indelible mark on American history and the world. His universal cry for a more humane and united world became a source of inspiration for all. His speech and the Civil Rights Movement were an important part of the broader peace movement. The peace movement helped form the basis of the Civil Rights Movement’s successful strategies and tactics. The peace movement was a social movement that sought to end wars, minimize violence, and ultimately achieve world peace. Non-violent resistance, pacifism, demonstrations, boycotts, ethical consumerism, and supporting anti-war candidates were some of the tactics the peace movement employed to achieve their goals.

Other social movements in the twentieth century were also heavily influenced and impacted by the peace movement. In honor of the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, here are 11 facts about the contemporary peace movement you probably didn’t know:

1. Gandhi saw himself as being a disciple of Leo Tolstoy and strongly credits his pacifist ideas to the Russian novelist (Green, The Origins of Nonviolence).

2. Peace activists “pioneered the use of Gandhian nonviolence in the United States and provided critical assistance to the African American civil rights movement.”

3. It has been argued that peace activists have helped “shape the political culture of American radicalism.

4. Not only did the peace movement address antiwar and antinuclear issues, it also addressed racism, sexism, poverty, imperialism, and environmental degradation.

martin luther king jr. speech
“Dr. Martin Luther King speaking against war in Vietnam, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota” by Minnesota Historical Society. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

5. The Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 helped to solidify Martin Luther King Jr.’s decision to use acts of nonviolence to champion the civil rights movement.

6. The peace movement was responsible for organizing the “Freedom Ride” which drew attention to Southern segregation.

7. Martin Luther King Jr. was also active in opposing the Vietnam War. In perhaps his second most famous speech, King accused the US government as being the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He went on to share some incredibly wise words that are still relevant today:

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

8. Feminist peace activists played an important role in creating unprecedented levels of interaction among women of different races and nationalities.

9. In protest of the Vietnam War, feminist peace activists used to use the antiwar slogan “Girls say yes to boys who say no.”

10. By increasing awareness of global women’s issues, feminist peace activists helped to make 1975 the United Nations’ International Women’s Year and 1975–1985 the Decade of Women.

11. The largest recorded anti-war rally ever took place in Rome in 2004 with around three million people, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Featured image credit: Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. via the US Marines. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent Comments

  1. Ari Corcoran

    This is supposed to be from the OUP, and should have a more universalist approach. I am tired of entries to the OUP having such a USA-centric approach. Apart from the mere mention of Ghandi, there is virtually nothing in this entry on the peace movement other than it being a US-based movement. Poppycock!

  2. J. Seidler

    Aside the feminist peace movement some men seem to have started a “Men For Peace” Initiative in Austria: http://www.menforpeace.net .


  3. Holly

    I love meditating and looking at your cool facts you put up on this website

  4. Eshwar Sahu


  5. Mohammad Ibrahim Khan.

    We are the sons of only one mother and father, i.e. Adam and Eve. This concept make a peace in the world.

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