On the Legacy of Massacres and Assassinations: My Lai, the Death of MLK, and Contemporary Racial Violence

Authors: James Tyner*, Kent State University
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Political Geography
Keywords: Martin Luther King Jr, Vietnam, racial violence, civil rights
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Borgne Room, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


April 4, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Since his death, myriad scholarly and popular accounts have grappled with both his politics and methods, memory and legacy. The year 2018 marks also the 50th anniversary of another violent tragedy: the massacre of 300 mostly women, children, and elder Vietnamese by American forces at My Lai. In this paper I juxtapose the assassination of King with the massacre at My Lai. Collectively, these events call to question deeper concerns of state violence, the intersections of domestic and foreign policies, and a pervasive denial of societal inequality. More precisely, an engagement with the legacy of these events affords a critical opportunity to reflect upon, and challenge, contemporary forms of racist violence that reach beyond the streets of the United States to the streets of the Global South.

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