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Local View: Like King, stand strong against war, nuclear weapons

From the column: "Honoring the authentic legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. requires taking on three of humanity’s great problems, as embodied in the “giant triplets” King fought against: racism, materialism, and militarism."

MLK editorial cartoon
Dave Granlund/Cagle Cartoons

Another Martin Luther King Jr. Day is upon us — along with the first anniversary on Jan. 22 of the day the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons went into force. These events are linked, as Dr. King clearly and repeatedly stated his objections to nuclear weaponry.

In Ebony magazine in 1957, King wrote: "I definitely feel that the development and use of nuclear weapons should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic."

In his lecture when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. King said: “It is as imperative and urgent to put an end to war and violence between nations as it is to put an end to racial injustice. Equality with whites will hardly solve the problems of either whites or Negroes if it means equality in a society under the spell of terror and a world doomed to extinction. …

“Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race, which no one can win, to a positive contest to harness man's creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a peace race.”

The goal of the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons, first adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on July 7, 2017, is to establish an “unambiguous political commitment” to a world without nuclear weapons and to serve as a “catalyst” for their elimination.


While the treaty passed overwhelmingly with 122 nations voting in favor, with one against and and abstention, 69 nations did not vote. The U.S. did not vote or even participate in negotiations for this historic treaty. The military allies of the United States and the other countries with nuclear weapons did not vote.

Very little progress has been made toward Dr. King’s call for ending war and nuclear weapons. The current fiscal year has the U.S. spending more than $74 billion on nuclear weaponry alone, with indications that the current administration will only increase that spending. Imagine other uses for that money!

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a pledge members of Congress can sign to support the treaty. Ten current members have signed the pledge, including two from Minnesota and one from Wisconsin. In 41 states, 326 local and state elected officials and 56 municipalities support joining the treaty.

Honoring the authentic legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. requires taking on three of humanity’s great problems, as embodied in the “giant triplets” King fought against: racism, materialism, and militarism. Joining the treaty and using the resources wasted on nuclear weapons to end human suffering would move us toward justice and safety from nuclear annihilation.

The U.S. should provide leadership rather than clinging to dangerous and devastating weapons as a false means of security. Dr. King called us to act before it is too late.

Dorothy Wolden of Lake Nebagamon is a core group representative of the Northland Chapter of Grandmothers for Peace. She wrote this on behalf of Grandmothers for Peace and Veterans for Peace. Philip Anderson of Maple, a member of Veterans for Peace Chapter 80 in Duluth-Superior, contributed with editing.

Dorothy Wolden.JPG
Dorothy Wolden

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