King Takes a Radical Stand, 1967–8

  • James A. Colaiaco


During the final year and a half of his life, King challenged the nation to undertake radical reforms. Stiffening white resistance to black equality, in addition to the spreading ghetto riots and the escalating Vietnam conflict, had created the greatest crisis in America since the Civil War. King saw these developments as symptoms of a moral sickness afflicting the nation that could be remedied only by radical changes in its political, social and economic structure. In an interview with journalist David Halberstam in 1967, he explained his recent political transformation: ‘For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values’.1 King spoke of the possible nationalization of certain industries, a guaranteed annual income, a review of foreign investments and programmes to revitalize the cities. In the ensuing months, King would promote radical proposals such as these while the broad coalition of support he had depended upon in the past continued to dwindle. The Chicago campaign and the ‘white backlash’ clearly revealed that racism was not confined to the South, but was deeply ingrained in all aspects of American life.


Black Panther Party American Foreign Policy Ghetto Black Peace Movement Sanitation Worker 
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  1. 1.
    David Halberstam, ‘The Second Coming of Martin Luther King’, Harper’s, (August, 1967), in Lincoln, King, pp. 201–2.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    John J. Ansbro, Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Making of a Mind, (New York, 1982), p. 253.Google Scholar
  3. 59.
    Gerold Frank, An American Death, (Garden City, New York, 1972), pp. 39–40.Google Scholar
  4. 69.
    Godfrey Hodgson, American in Our Time, (New York, 1978), p. 360.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James A. Colaiaco 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Colaiaco
    • 1
  1. 1.BaldwinUSA

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