Inviting Martin Luther King to Refuse War Taxes

On , just a few days after Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his powerful “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Eric Weinberger, the national secretary of the Committee for Nonviolent Action, wrote to to ask if King would publicly sign on to their war tax resistance campaign:

I don’t know how (or if) King responded to this request. I have seen no indications that he participated in the war tax resistance of the period.

King had been targeted by politically-motivated tax prosecutions in areas where he had been active. Because of this he had been under particular pressure to keep to the straight-and-narrow when it came to tax filing, so as not to give his enemies a potentially fruitful avenue of attack. This may have discouraged him from making war tax resistance part of his protest against U.S. militarism and the Vietnam War. It is also possible that, since King was killed , he just didn’t have time to put any possibly-intended resistance into practice.

The CNVA letterhead as shown on this letter is a clue as to who was associated with the emerging war tax resistance movement of the time. Many of these names are familiar to me, but some others are not:

A.J. Muste (Chairman), Gordon Christiansen (Chairman, Executive Committee), Ralph DiGia (Treasurer). Staff: Eric Weinberger (National Secretary), Maris Cakars (Field Secretary), Mark Morris (Director of Publication), Peter Kiger, Gwen Reyes. Executive Committee: Peter Boehmer, Mary Cristiansen, Tom Cornell, William C. Davidon, David Dellinger, Barbara Deming, Erica Enzer, Jim Forest, Neil D. Haworth, Bill Henry, Irene Johnson, Yvonne Klein, Paul Klotzle, Anton Kuerti, Bob Larsen, Bradford Lyttle, David McReynolds, Stewart Meacham, Dorothy Mock, Jim Peck, Harry Purvis, David Reed, Charles Solin, Beverly Sterner, Mary Suzuki, Robert Swann, Charles Walker, Barbara Webster, George Willoughby, Bill Wingell, Wilmer Young. Consultants: Joan Baez, Albert Bigelow, Henry Cadbury, Dorothy Day, Richard B. Gregg, Ammon Hennacy, William R. Huntington, Ray Kinney, Milton Mayer, Mildred Scott Olmstead, Earle Reynolds, Sumner M. Rosen, Bill Sutherland, Ralph Templin, David Wieck