This is a copy of the letter written by Martin Luther King, recommending Thich Nhat Hanh as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. I find it immensely moving.
January 25 1967
As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967.
I do not know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam.
This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity and security of the entire world.
Because no honour is more respected than the Nobel Peace Prize, conferring the Prize on Nhat Hanh would be itself a most generous act of peace. It would remind all nations that men of good will stand ready to lead warring elements out of an abyss of hatred and destruction. It would re-awaken men to the teaching of beauty and love found in peace. It would help to revive hopes for a new order of justice and harmony.
I know Thich Nhat Hanh and am privileged to call him my friend. Let me share with you some things I know about him. You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests.
He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. The author of ten published volumes, he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion. His academic discipline is the Philosophy of Religion, of which he is a Professor at Van Hanh,the Buddhist University he helped found in Saigon. He directs the institute for Social Studies at this University. This amazing man also is editor of Thein My, an influential buddhist weekly publication. And he is Director of Youth for Social Service, a Vietnamese institution which trains young people for the peaceable rehabilitation of their country.
Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace to his own people. What a tragic commentary this is on the existing situation in Vietnam and those who perpetuate it.The history of Vietnam is filled with chapters of exploitation by outside powers and corrupted men of wealth, until even now the Vietnamese are harshly ruled, ill-fed, poorly housed, and burdened by all the hardships and terrors of modern warfare.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has travelled the world, counselling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support.
His ideas for peace, if applied,would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.
I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. tHICH nat Hanh would bear his honour with grace and humility.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.