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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Speech

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Speech


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It was a stormy night and the weather was bad but the turnout was not. People had gathered to hear Martin Luther King, Jr., who was back in Memphis to offer inspiration for an ongoing struggle that had celebrated recent victories. King knew that storms pass and that joy comes in the morning, for he had witnessed the pain of water cannons and police dogs; he remembered the Birmingham bombing and the bombing of his own home; but he also saw legislative gains and political successes. He came on the evening of April 3rd, 1968 to share his wisdom, encouragement and support, even though a huge storm was threatening to prevent him from speaking that night.

It wasn’t just the storm threatening. The city was on edge, and racial tensions and unrest were growing. Using the slogan “I AM A MAN,” 1,300 African-American male employees of the Memphis Department of Public Works had gone on strike to demand better working conditions, higher wages and recognition of their union. King knew firsthand that economic injustice was equally as damaging as racial injustice, which was the impetus behind his Poor People’s Campaign. Following the death of two workers, he had already visited Memphis twice in the last month, the first time to give a speech to between 15,000 and 25,000 people. Robert Walker and Echol Cole had been crushed to death by the garbage truck they worked on when they took shelter inside the compactor to escape severe weather. The city had rules on where workers could go to protect themselves and the compactor barrel was the only place they were allowed to take cover. Tragically, it was also the place that compressed them to their death.

Memphis was a community in mourning, but it was also a city weary of authority and fed up with elected officials. There was palpable disappointment among the workers and their allies when storms had forced King to postpone a scheduled march on his first visit. But he was back again on the 28th to lead it. With the support of the workers, religious clergy and students of all ages, activists took to the streets. Their peaceful march ended early due to violence and the presence of thousands of National Guard troops. King’s team took him to Atlanta for protection. However, his commitment to the sanitation workers did not falter. He returned a third time a few days later and despite the storm, he gave his “Mountaintop Speech” to the crowd. The next day he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel.

More than 4,000 people around the world have scaled Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. Climbers have to train and take their bodies to extreme limits in order to see a view from a mountaintop that sits 29,029 feet above sea level. Their single goal is to make it to the top of the mountain. Inevitably, they understand that with this journey comes struggle, pain, sacrifice and sometimes death. They are not alone in their desire to reach the highest point on earth as hundreds of climbers before them shared the same goal. Some made it and many others died along the way. For those fortunate to make it, the last mile of the hike is the most brutal. The air is so thin that oxygen tanks are required. Walking sticks and spikes on the bottom of their boots allow them to grip the ground for stability against stormy unpredictable weather. Fighting fatigue, potential disorientation, frostbite and altitude sickness, climbers continue to climb. They do it year after year with the aid of Tibetan Sherpa guides.

King, too, had a spiritual guide who took him to the mountaintop. In his speech, he reflected on history and used the powerful metaphor of a mountaintop to give people hope. From his perspective, his people and the workers he came to address, were climbing a mountain.

Although his guide did not take him to Mt. Everest, King saw the mountaintop as a place to witness the greatness of human capacity. He had been through valleys and storms, but his guide led him along the way. God was with him and from the mountaintop showed him the Promised Land. He witnessed victories like the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He saw the desegregation of schools and the realities of his dream starting to materialize. Reflecting on his life that stormy night in Memphis, King considered a panoramic view of the past. If God asked him what period in history he would like to live in, King thought about visiting Egypt and witnessing his people cross the Red Sea. He imagined going to Greece and visiting Mt. Olympus where he could see the great philosophers such as “Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon.” But, he said, he would not stop there. He would also visit the Roman Empire, the Renaissance period and seek out Martin Luther as he “tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg.” Again, King would not stop there, he would move on to the United States in the year 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Finally, he asked God to allow him to see some of the second half of the 20th century. It was to be his final sermon. The next day, he was shot dead.

In King’s lifetime, he saw his people, the descendants of the enslaved, fight to exercise their citizenship during an important historical era. African Americans spent nearly 300 years in chains working for a country that did not recognize their personhood. They labored in fields, factories, homes, universities, cities and just about every place you can imagine. They did so without wages and were considered chattel, a movable form of property used to benefit the growth and development of a young nation. But when freedom came in 1865, and the monetary value placed upon their bodies did not transfer into wages, 4 million African Americans continued their fight for justice and equality. In my research, I have found that African Americans always valued themselves clinging to the strength of their souls, hoping for a better tomorrow. Echoes of their “soul values” are present today in movements like Black Lives, yet the struggle continues. Yes, we have witnessed the first African-American family in the White House and we celebrated the accomplishment of the Obama election, but we still have more work to do. Just as King and his peers fought to end discrimination and disenfranchisement in the 20th century, we are still trying to create a more perfect society in the 21st century. We are still a divided nation.

King’s idea of the mountaintop encourages us to continue believing that we can achieve anything through persistence, perseverance and prayer. Just like those who climb Mt. Everest traveling from base camp to base camp, through storms with dangerous winds, snow, sleet and rain; the higher they climb, the thinner the air becomes as they pass those who did not make it. Witnessing such atrocities sometimes fuels their desire to reach the top because they believe that the viewpoint from the peak is worth the journey, even if only for a moment.

From my mountaintop, I see a generation of children who want the equality King dreamed of and a world where justice stamps out hatred, bigotry and poverty. On my mountaintop, I cannot help but acknowledge the storms we’ve made it through and give thanks for the lessons learned along the way. From King, I recognize that in order to enjoy the view from the top, we cannot bypass the struggle it took to get there. King had been to the mountaintop and he was hopeful for a better tomorrow.

There is a statue of King on the southwest side of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Here he towers over us, carved out of a rock, protruding from a mountain, gazing up at the almighty where he now lays to rest. How fitting that in the last few sentences on the eve of his death, King shared his mountaintop moment with us. He said that God allowed him “to go up to the mountain,” and he “looked over” and was blessed to have “seen the Promised Land.” Although he had been through storms and he knew that he “may not get there” with us, he wanted us to know that we “will get to the promised land.” He was happy, not worried, and did not fear “any man” because “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”


Martin Luther King: the story behind his 'I have a dream' speech

T he night before the March on Washington, on 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King asked his aides for advice about the next day’s speech. “Don’t use the lines about ‘I have a dream’, his adviser Wyatt Walker told him. “It’s trite, it’s cliche. You’ve used it too many times already.”

King had indeed employed the refrain several times before. It had featured in an address just a week earlier at a fundraiser in Chicago, and a few months before that at a huge rally in Detroit. As with most of his speeches, both had been well received, but neither had been regarded as momentous.

This speech had to be different. While King was by now a national political figure, relatively few outside the black church and the civil rights movement had heard him give a full address. With all three television networks offering live coverage of the march for jobs and freedom, this would be his oratorical introduction to the nation.

After a wide range of conflicting suggestions from his staff, King left the lobby at the Willard hotel in DC to put the final touches to a speech he hoped would be received, in his words, “like the Gettysburg address”. “I am now going upstairs to my room to counsel with my Lord,” he told them. “I will see you all tomorrow.”

King with his adviser Wyatt Walker, who urged: ‘Don’t use the lines about “I have a dream”. It’s cliche.’ Photograph: Tom Self/Birmingham News/Polaris/Eyevine

A few floors below King’s suite, Walker made himself available. King would call down and tell him what he wanted to say Walker would write something he hoped worked, then head up the stairs to present it to King.

“When it came to my speech drafts,” wrote Clarence Jones, who had already penned the first draft, “[King] often acted like an interior designer. I would deliver four strong walls and he would use his God-given abilities to furnish the place so it felt like home.” King finished the outline at about midnight and then wrote a draft in longhand. One of his aides who went to King’s suite that night saw words crossed out three or four times. He thought it looked as though King were writing poetry. King went to sleep at about 4am, giving the text to his aides to print and distribute. The “I have a dream” section was not in it.

A few hours after King went to sleep, the march’s organiser, Bayard Rustin, wandered on to the Washington Mall, where the demonstration would take place later that day, with some of his assistants, to find security personnel and journalists outnumbering demonstrators. Political marches in Washington are now commonplace, but in 1963 attempting to stage a march of this size in that place was unprecedented. The movement had high hopes for a large turnout and originally set a goal of 100,000. From the reservations on coaches and trains alone, they guessed they should be at least close to that figure. But when the morning came, that expectation did little to calm their nerves. Reporters badgered Rustin about the ramifications for both the event and the movement if the crowd turned out to be smaller than anticipated. Rustin, forever theatrical, took a round pocket watch from his trousers and some paper from his jacket. Examining first the paper and then the watch, he turned to the reporters and said: “Everything is right on schedule.” The piece of paper was blank.

The first official Freedom Train arrived at Washington’s Union station from Pittsburgh at 8.02am, records Charles Euchner in Nobody Turn Me Around. Within a couple of hours, thousands were pouring through the stations every five minutes, while almost two buses a minute rolled into DC from across the country. About 250,000 people showed up that day. The Washington Mall was awash with Hollywood celebrities, including Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis Jr, Burt Lancaster, James Garner and Harry Belafonte. Marlon Brando wandered around brandishing an electric cattle prod, a symbol of police brutality. Josephine Baker made it over from France. Paul Newman mingled with the crowd.

The crowd, marching to the National Mall Photograph: Arniesachs/mediapunch/REX/Shutterstock

It was a hectic morning for King, paying a courtesy visit with other march leaders to politicians at the Capitol, but he still found time to fiddle with the speech. When he eventually walked to the podium, the typed final version was once more full of crossings out and scribbles.

Rustin had limited the speakers to just five minutes each, and threatened to come on with a crook and haul them from the podium when their time was up. But they all overran and, given the heat – 87F at noon – and humidity, the crowd’s mood began to wane. Weary from a night’s travel, many were anxious to make good time on the journey back and had already left. King was 16th on an official programme that included the national anthem, the invocation, a prayer, a tribute to women, two sets of songs and nine other speakers. Only the benediction and the pledge came after. Portions of the crowd had moved off to seek respite from the heat under the trees on the Mall while others dipped their feet in the reflecting pool. Those most eager for a view of the podium braved the sun under the shade of their umbrellas.

“There was… an air of subtle depression, of wistful apathy which existed in many,” wrote Norman Mailer. “One felt a little of the muted disappointment which attacks a crowd in the seventh inning of a very important baseball game when the score has gone 11-3. The home team is ahead, but the tension is broken: one’s concern is no longer noble.”

But if they were exhausted, they were no less excited. Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson had lifted spirits with I’ve Been ‘Buked and I’ve Been Scorned. Joachim Prinz, president of the American Jewish Congress, followed, recalling his time as a rabbi in Berlin under Hitler: “A great people who had created a great civilisation had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder,” he said. “America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent.”

King was next. The area around the mic was crowded with speakers, dignitaries and their entourages. Wearing a black suit, black tie and white shirt, King edged through the melee towards the podium.

“I tell students today, ‘There were no jumbotrons [large screen TVs] back then,’ “ says Rachelle Horowitz, the young activist who organised transport to the march. “All people could see was a speck. And they listened to it.”

King started slowly, and stuck close to his prepared text. “I thought it was a good speech,” recalled John Lewis, the leader of the student wing of the movement, who had addressed the march earlier that day. “But it was not nearly as powerful as many I had heard him make. As he moved towards his final words, it seemed that he, too, could sense that he was falling short. He hadn’t locked into that power he so often found.”

King was winding up what would have been a well-received but, by his standards, fairly unremarkable oration. “Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana,” he said. Then, behind him, Mahalia Jackson cried out: “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin.” Jackson had a particularly intimate emotional relationship with King, who when he felt down would call her for some “gospel musical therapy”.

“She was his favourite gospel singer, and he would ask her to sing The Old Rugged Cross or Jesus Met The Woman At The Well down the phone,” Jones explains. Jackson had seen him deliver the dream refrain in Detroit in June and clearly it had moved her.

“Go back to the slums and ghettoes of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed,” King said. Jackson shouted again: “Tell ‘em about the dream.” “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends.” Then King grabbed the podium and set his prepared text to his left. “When he was reading from his text, he stood like a lecturer,” Jones says. “But from the moment he set that text aside, he took on the stance of a Baptist preacher.” Jones turned to the person standing next to him and said: “Those people don’t know it, but they’re about to go to church.”

A smattering of applause filled a pause more pregnant than most.

“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”

“Aw, shit,” Walker said. “He’s using the dream.”

King, third from left, marches in a line of men with arms linked Photograph: AP

For all King’s careful preparation, the part of the speech that went on to enter the history books was added extemporaneously while he was standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, speaking in full flight to the crowd. “I know that on the eve of his speech it was not in his mind to revisit the dream,” Jones insists.

It is open to debate just how spontaneous the insertion of the “I have a dream” section was (Euchner says a guest in the adjacent hotel room to King heard him rehearsing the segment the night before), but the two things we know for sure are that it was not in the prepared text and it wasn’t invented on the spot. King had been using the refrain for well over a year. Talking some months later of his decision to include the passage, King said: “I started out reading the speech, and I read it down to a point. The audience response was wonderful that day… And all of a sudden this thing came to me that… I’d used many times before… ‘I have a dream.’ And I just felt that I wanted to use it here… I used it, and at that point I just turned aside from the manuscript altogether. I didn’t come back to it.”

“Though [King] was extremely well known before he stepped up to the lectern,” Jones wrote, “he had stepped down on the other side of history.”

Watching the whole thing on TV in the White House, President John F Kennedy, who had never heard an entire King speech before, remarked: “He’s damned good. Damned good.” Almost everyone, including even King’s enemies, recognised the speech’s reach and resonance. William Sullivan, the FBI’s assistant director of domestic intelligence, recommended: “We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous negro of the future of this nation.”

A few in the crowd were unimpressed. Anne Moody, a black activist who had made the trip from rural Mississippi, recalled: “I sat on the grass and listened to the speakers, to discover we had ‘dreamers’ instead of leaders leading us. Just about every one of them stood up there dreaming. Martin Luther King went on and on talking about his dream. I sat there thinking that in Canton we never had time to sleep, much less dream.”

But most were ebullient. “It would be like if, right now in the Arab spring, somebody made a speech that was 15 minutes long that summarised what this whole period of social change was all about,” one of King’s most trusted aides, Andrew Young, told me. “The country was in more turmoil than it had been in since before the second world war. People didn’t understand it. And he explained it. It wasn’t a black speech. It wasn’t just a Christian speech. It was an all-American speech.”

During the protests in Tiananmen Square, China, some protesters held up posters of King saying “I have a dream”. On the wall that Israel has built around parts of the West Bank, someone has written “I have a dream. This is not part of that dream.” The phrase “I have a dream” has been spotted in such disparate places as a train in Budapest and on a mural in suburban Sydney. Asked in 2008 whether they thought the speech was “relevant to people of your generation”, 68% of Americans said yes, including 76% of blacks and 67% of whites. Only 4% were not familiar with it.

But few of those in the movement thought at the time that it would be the speech by which King would be remembered 50 years later.

“Rustin always said that King’s genius was that he could simultaneously talk to a black audience about why they needed to achieve their freedom and address a white audience about why they should support that freedom,” recalls Horowitz. “Simultaneously. It was a genius that he could do that as one Gestalt… King’s was the poetry that made the march immortal. He capped off the day perfectly. He did what everybody wanted him to do and expected him to do. But I don’t think anybody predicted at the time that the speech would do what it did since.”

Their bemusement was justified. For if, in its immediate aftermath, the speech had any significant political impact, it was not obvious. “At the time of King’s death in April 1968, his speech at the March on Washington had nearly vanished from public view,” writes Drew Hansen in his book about the speech, The Dream. “There was no reason to believe that King’s speech would one day come to be seen as a defining moment for his career and for the civil rights movement as a whole… King’s speech at the march is almost never mentioned during the monumental debates over the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which occupy around 64,000 pages of the Congressional record.”

History does not objectively sift through speeches, pick out the best on their merits and then dedicate them faithfully to public memory. It commits itself to the task with great prejudice and fickle appreciation, in a manner that tells us as much about the historian and the times as the speech itself. The speech was marginalised because, in the last few years of his life, King himself was marginalised, and few who had the power to elevate his speech to iconic status had any self-interest in doing so. His growing propensity to take on issues of poverty, followed by his opposition to the Vietnam war, lost him the support of the political class and much of his white and more conservative base.

King’s speech at the March on Washington offers a positive prognosis on the apparently chronic American ailment of racism. As such, it is a rare thing to find in almost any culture or nation: an optimistic oration about race that acknowledges the desperate circumstances that made it necessary while still projecting hope, patriotism, humanism and militancy.

In the age of Obama and the Tea Party, there is something in there for everyone. It speaks, in the vernacular of the black church, with clarity and conviction to African Americans’ historical plight and looks forward to a time when that plight will be eliminated (“We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘for whites only’. No, no, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”).

Its nod to all that is sacred in American political culture, from the founding fathers to the American dream, makes it patriotic (“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”). It sets bigotry against colour-blindness while prescribing no route map for how we get from one to the other. (“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists… little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”)

But the breadth of its appeal is to some extent at the expense of depth. It is in no small part so widely admired because the interpretations of what King was saying vary so widely. Polls show that while African Americans and American whites both agree about the extent to which “the dream has been realised”, they profoundly disagree on the state of contemporary race relations. The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman over the shooting of the black teenager Trayvon Martin illustrates the degree to which blacks and whites are less likely to see the same problems, more likely to disagree on the causes of those problems and, therefore, unlikely to agree on a remedy. Hearing the same speech, they understand different things.

Conservatives, meanwhile, have been keen to co-opt both King and the speech. In 2010, Tea Party favourite Glenn Beck held the “Restoring Honour” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of the speech, telling a crowd of about 90,000: “The man who stood down on those stairs… gave his life for everyone’s right to have a dream.” Almost a year later, black republican presidential candidate Herman Cain opened his speech to the southern Republican leadership conference with the words, “I have a dream.”

Their embrace of the speech has made some black intellectuals and activists wary. They fear that the speech can too easily be distorted in a manner that undermines the speaker’s legacy. “In the light of the determined misuse of King’s rhetoric, a modest proposal appears in order,” Georgetown university professor Michael Dyson wrote in 2001. “A 10-year moratorium on listening to or reading ‘I Have a Dream’.” At first blush, such a proposal seems absurd and counter- productive. After all, King’s words have convinced many Americans that racial justice should be aggressively pursued. The sad truth is, however, that our political climate has eroded the real point of King’s beautiful words.”

These responses tell us at least as much about now as then, perhaps more. The 50th anniversary of “I have a dream” arrives at a time when the president is black, whites are destined to become a minority in the US in little more than a generation, and civil rights-era protections are being dismantled. Segregationists have all but disappeared, even if segregation as a lived experience has not. Racism, however, remains.

Fifty years on, it is clear that in eliminating legal segregation – not racism, but formal, codified discrimination – the civil rights movement delivered the last moral victory in America for which there is still a consensus. While the struggle to defeat it was bitter and divisive, nobody today is seriously campaigning for the return of segregation or openly mourning its demise. The speech’s appeal lies in the fact that, whatever the interpretation, it remains the most eloquent, poetic, unapologetic and public articulation of that victory.


The Last Speech of Martin Luther King: ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ – The Full Text

The day before Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, he gave his final speech, known as ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech. Here’s the full text.

By The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., MEMPHIS, Tenn./ April 3, 1968

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there.

I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn’t stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but “fear itself.” But I wouldn’t stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.”

Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa Nairobi, Kenya Accra, Ghana New York City Atlanta, Georgia Jackson, Mississippi or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same: “We want to be free.”

And another reason that I’m happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn’t force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.

And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn’t done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I’m just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I’m happy that He’s allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember — I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world.

And that’s all this whole thing is about. We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying — We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we are God’s children, we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we’ve got to keep attention on that. That’s always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn’t get around to that.

Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be — and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God’s children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. And we’ve got to say to the nation: We know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory. We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces they don’t know what to do. I’ve seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come but we just went before the dogs singing, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.”

Bull Connor next would say, “Turn the fire hoses on.” And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn’t stop us.

And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them and we’d go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we’d just go on singing “Over my head I see freedom in the air.” And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, “Take ’em off,” and they did and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, “We Shall Overcome.”

And every now and then we’d get in jail, and we’d see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn’t adjust to and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we’ve got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.

Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we’re going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there.

But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what’s beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It’s a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, “When God speaks who can but prophesy?” Again with Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,” and he’s anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.”

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years he’s been to jail for struggling he’s been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit.

But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren’t concerned about anything but themselves. And I’m always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It’s all right to talk about “streets flowing with milk and honey,” but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we’ll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively — that means all of us together — collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that?

After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That’s power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don’t have to argue with anybody. We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, “God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned.

Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy — what is the other bread? — Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain now we must kind of redistribute the pain.

We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town — downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a “bank-in” movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I’m not asking you something that we don’t do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.”

Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end.

Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base…. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side.

They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem — or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.”

That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.”

And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you. You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up.

The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said, “Yes.” And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, your drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital.

They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply,

“Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.”

“While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”

And I want to say tonight — I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.

If I had sneezed — If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.

I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.

And they were telling me –. Now, it doesn’t matter, now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us.

The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!


An 'Exhausted' Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final 31 Hours

Martin Luther King Jr. stands with fellow civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968 — one day before he was assassinated while standing in approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King and Ralph Abernathy. Charles Kelly/AP hide caption

Martin Luther King Jr. stands with fellow civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968 — one day before he was assassinated while standing in approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King and Ralph Abernathy.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. flew from Atlanta to Memphis on the morning of April 3, 1968, he was not in a particularly good state of mind.

"While the plane was about to take off, there was a bomb threat that was specifically targeted at King and that delayed the departure of the flight," says Joseph Rosenbloom, author of the new book Redemption: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last 31 Hours. "They brought dogs onto the plane, they evacuated the passengers. And so the plane arrived an hour or so late in Memphis."

1968: How We Got Here

When MLK Was Killed, He Was In Memphis Fighting For Economic Justice

That violent threat seemed to really get to King. He was used to threats, but he felt like this one in particular might be a sign of something terrible to come.

King was also haunted by his prior visit to Memphis less than a week before, when he had led a march of striking sanitation workers. It turned violent, which went against his deep commitment to non-violence. Rosenbloom says that this really got to King.

"He was enormously distressed and despairing," Rosenbloom says. "Some of his aides said that they've never seen him more depressed than he was at that time. He even thought for a moment that he should scrap the Poor People's Campaign altogether because it was so harmful to his credibility."

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last 31 Hours

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The Poor People's Campaign was a march on Washington that King was planning in order to highlight the plight of poor people. Even some of his closest friends and advisors told him it wasn't a good idea.

In Memphis, he faced more opposition from a group of young civil rights activists — primarily young black men — who didn't really respect him.

"That's the local black power group," Rosenbloom says. "They call themselves The Invaders. And they didn't have a very high regard for King. They were black nationalists. At least in their rhetoric, they espoused a lot of violent talk. So they differed with King. They thought his nonviolent movement was ineffective, that it was not aggressive enough."

But King still did what he was known for: He tried to rally a crowd with a speech. On the night of April 3, he spoke at the Mason Temple in Memphis.

This speech, maybe reflecting his mindset, was a little different.

"That speech is best remembered for the finality," Rosenbloom says. "In the finale, he turns to his own mortality. He talks about his dread of dying a violent life. He was really quite terrified."

That speech is now known as "I've Been To The Mountaintop." Near its end, King said: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain."

Afterward, King was drained.

"It seemed to take all the air out of him," Rosenbloom says. "He almost collapsed — he had to be helped to his chair at the back of the platform. He seemed deflated, he seemed utterly spent. I think the emotion of the day — starting with the bomb threat, and all the exertion of coming to the Mason Temple even though he was exhausted — I think all that had taken a toll on him."

The next day, King was on the balcony of his motel, about to head to dinner, when he was shot and killed. It was 31 hours after he had landed in Memphis.

"King didn't just fear death," Rosenbloom says. "He was certain that he was going to die and he was going to die soon. And it wasn't a question of 'if.' It was just a question of 'when.' "

The audio for this story did not broadcast on Morning Edition due to news events, but we wanted to share it with you anyway. Because it did not air, no transcript will be provided.


Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s Final Speech

The day before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his last public address to a group of sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech.

Somewhere I read of the freedom of press.

Somewhere I read that the greatness of America

is the right to protest for rights.

Well, I don't know what will happen now.

But it really doesn't matter with me now,

because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I've seen the Promised Land.

I may not get there with you.

But I want you to know tonight, (audience cheering)

that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.

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5 of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most memorable speeches

Before he was assassinated at age 39, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, organized the 1963 March on Washington, advocated for civil disobedience and non-violent protest, and became one of the most influential figures in American history.

Fifty years after his death, here’s a look back at some of the civil rights leader’s most memorable speeches.

“I Have a Dream” – Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

In his most famous speech, King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and called for an end to racism in the United States before a crowd of more than 250,000 people.

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”

“Our God is Marching On” – Selma, Alabama, March 25, 1965

Delivered after the historic marches from Selma to Montgomery, historians consider King’s triumphant deliverance of his “Our God is Marching On” speech to mark the end of the civil rights movement’s first phase focusing on legal and political rights. The movement would later focus on fighting for economic equality.

"How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, you shall reap what you sow… How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” – Riverside Church in New York City, April 4, 1967

Exactly one year before his assassination, King condemned the Vietnam War at a time when a majority of Americans still supported the effort. King was criticized for the speech, considered one of his most controversial, and lost supporters for being too political.

"We are taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem."

“The Other America” – Stanford University, April 14, 1967

Just 10 days after declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War, King spoke to a crowd at Stanford University and advocated for economic and social equality. In his “Other America” speech, King described “two Americas” to highlight the growing poverty gap in the United States as a root of inequality. King gave a similar version of this speech at Michigan’s Grosse Pointe High School on March 14, 1968.

“One America is beautiful for situation… millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity. But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair… They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

“I’ve been to the Mountaintop” – Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968

In his final speech, King addressed a church filled with striking sanitation workers who were protesting their low pay and working conditions. King emphasized the importance of unity and nonviolent protest in the fight for justice, no matter how painful the struggle.

“Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop… And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech date as April 28, 1963.


Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Last Speech: I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It&rsquos always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I&rsquom delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, &ldquoMartin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?&rdquo I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God&rsquos children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and aesthetic life of man. But I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but &ldquofear itself.&rdquo But I wouldn&rsquot stop there.

Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, &ldquoIf you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.&rdquo

Now that&rsquos a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land confusion all around. That&rsquos a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.

Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa Nairobi, Kenya Accra, Ghana New York City Atlanta, Georgia Jackson, Mississippi or Memphis, Tennessee &mdash the cry is always the same: &ldquoWe want to be free.&rdquo

And another reason that I&rsquom happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn&rsquot force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world it&rsquos nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.

And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn&rsquot done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I&rsquom just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding. And I&rsquom happy that He&rsquos allowed me to be in Memphis.

I can remember &mdash I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn&rsquot itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God&rsquos world.

And that&rsquos all this whole thing is about. We aren&rsquot engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying &mdash We are saying that we are God&rsquos children. And that we are God&rsquos children, we don&rsquot have to live like we are forced to live.

Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we&rsquove got to stay together. We&rsquove got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh&rsquos court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that&rsquos the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.

Secondly, let us keep the issues where they are. The issue is injustice. The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. Now, we&rsquove got to keep attention on that. That&rsquos always the problem with a little violence. You know what happened the other day, and the press dealt only with the window-breaking. I read the articles. They very seldom got around to mentioning the fact that one thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not being fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in dire need of a doctor. They didn&rsquot get around to that.

Now we&rsquore going to march again, and we&rsquove got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be &mdash and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God&rsquos children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That&rsquos the issue. And we&rsquove got to say to the nation: We know how it&rsquos coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.

We aren&rsquot going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces they don&rsquot know what to do. I&rsquove seen them so often. I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church day after day by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come but we just went before the dogs singing, &ldquoAin&rsquot gonna let nobody turn me around.&rdquo

Bull Connor next would say, &ldquoTurn the fire hoses on.&rdquo And as I said to you the other night, Bull Connor didn&rsquot know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn&rsquot relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn&rsquot stop us.

And we just went on before the dogs and we would look at them and we&rsquod go on before the water hoses and we would look at it, and we&rsquod just go on singing &ldquoOver my head I see freedom in the air.&rdquo And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in, and old Bull would say, &ldquoTake &rsquoem off,&rdquo and they did and we would just go in the paddy wagon singing, &ldquoWe Shall Overcome.&rdquo And every now and then we&rsquod get in jail, and we&rsquod see the jailers looking through the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn&rsquot adjust to and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our struggle in Birmingham. Now we&rsquove got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday.

Now about injunctions: We have an injunction and we&rsquore going into court tomorrow morning to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is, &ldquoBe true to what you said on paper.&rdquo If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn&rsquot committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren&rsquot going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren&rsquot going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

We need all of you. And you know what&rsquos beautiful to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It&rsquos a marvelous picture. Who is it that is supposed to articulate the longings and aspirations of the people more than the preacher? Somehow the preacher must have a kind of fire shut up in his bones. And whenever injustice is around he tell it. Somehow the preacher must be an Amos, and saith, &ldquoWhen God speaks who can but prophesy?&rdquo Again with Amos, &ldquoLet justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.&rdquo Somehow the preacher must say with Jesus, &ldquoThe Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me,&rdquo and he&rsquos anointed me to deal with the problems of the poor.&rdquo

And I want to commend the preachers, under the leadership of these noble men: James Lawson, one who has been in this struggle for many years he&rsquos been to jail for struggling he&rsquos been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he&rsquos still going on, fighting for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles I could just go right on down the list, but time will not permit. But I want to thank all of them. And I want you to thank them, because so often, preachers aren&rsquot concerned about anything but themselves. And I&rsquom always happy to see a relevant ministry.

It&rsquos all right to talk about &ldquolong white robes over yonder,&rdquo in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It&rsquos all right to talk about &ldquostreets flowing with milk and honey,&rdquo but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can&rsquot eat three square meals a day. It&rsquos all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God&rsquos preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Now the other thing we&rsquoll have to do is this: Always anchor our external direct action with the power of economic withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Individually, we are poor when you compare us with white society in America. We are poor. Never stop and forget that collectively &mdash that means all of us together &mdash collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the exception of nine. Did you ever think about that? After you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Great Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than most nations of the world. We have an annual income of more than thirty billion dollars a year, which is more than all of the exports of the United States, and more than the national budget of Canada. Did you know that? That&rsquos power right there, if we know how to pool it.

We don&rsquot have to argue with anybody. We don&rsquot have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don&rsquot need any bricks and bottles. We don&rsquot need any Molotov cocktails. We just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say,

&ldquoGod sent us by here, to say to you that you&rsquore not treating his children right. And we&rsquove come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God&rsquos children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.&rdquo

And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy &mdash what is the other bread? &mdash Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart&rsquos bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven&rsquot been fair in their hiring policies and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on town &mdash downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right.

But not only that, we&rsquove got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. We want a &ldquobank-in&rdquo movement in Memphis. Go by the savings and loan association. I&rsquom not asking you something that we don&rsquot do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we are doing. Put your money there. You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an &ldquoinsurance-in.&rdquo
Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base. And at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. I ask you to follow through here.

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we&rsquove got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We&rsquove got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school &mdash be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base&hellip.
Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn&rsquot stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the &ldquoI&rdquo into the &ldquothou,&rdquo and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn&rsquot stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn&rsquot be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that &ldquoOne who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.&rdquo And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem &mdash or down to Jericho, rather to organize a &ldquoJericho Road Improvement Association.&rdquo That&rsquos a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I&rsquom going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It&rsquos possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, &ldquoI can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.&rdquo It&rsquos a winding, meandering road. It&rsquos really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles &mdash or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you&rsquore about 2200 feet below sea level. That&rsquos a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the &ldquoBloody Pass.&rdquo And you know, it&rsquos possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it&rsquos possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked &mdash the first question that the Levite asked was, &ldquoIf I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?&rdquo But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: &ldquoIf I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?&rdquo

That&rsquos the question before you tonight. Not, &ldquoIf I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, &ldquoIf I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?&rdquo The question is not, &ldquoIf I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?&rdquo The question is, &ldquoIf I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?&rdquo That&rsquos the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, &ldquoAre you Martin Luther King?&rdquo And I was looking down writing, and I said, &ldquoYes.&rdquo And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that&rsquos punctured, your drowned in your own blood &mdash that&rsquos the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I&rsquove forgotten what those telegrams said. I&rsquod received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I&rsquove forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I&rsquoll never forget it. It said simply,

&ldquoDear Dr. King,
I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.&rdquo

&ldquoWhile it should not matter, I would like to mention that I&rsquom a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I&rsquom simply writing you to say that I&rsquom so happy that you didn&rsquot sneeze.&rdquo

And I want to say tonight &mdash I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn&rsquot sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn&rsquot have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn&rsquot have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn&rsquot have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can&rsquot ride your back unless it is bent.

If I had sneezed &mdash If I had sneezed I wouldn&rsquot have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn&rsquot have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.

I had sneezed, I wouldn&rsquot have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn&rsquot have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I&rsquom so happy that I didn&rsquot sneeze.

And they were telling me &ndash. Now, it doesn&rsquot matter, now. It really doesn&rsquot matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, &ldquoWe are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we&rsquove had the plane protected and guarded all night.&rdquo

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don&rsquot know what will happen now. We&rsquove got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn&rsquot matter with me now, because I&rsquove been to the mountaintop.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I&rsquom not concerned about that now. I just want to do God&rsquos will. And He&rsquos allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I&rsquove looked over. And I&rsquove seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

I&rsquom not worried about anything.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!


Remembering MLK's Prophetic 'Mountaintop' Speech

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his last public address, at the Mason Temple, a Pentecostal church in Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination. Bettmann/Corbis hide caption

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his last public address, at the Mason Temple, a Pentecostal church in Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination.

King's Final Speech

Video: Watch a Key Excerpt

The Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles was in the Memphis church where King delivered his last speech. Brooks Kraft/Corbis hide caption

The Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles was in the Memphis church where King delivered his last speech.

More from 1968

More Civil Rights History

On April 3, 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final public speech. In a crowded church in Memphis, Tenn., King spoke of the injustice felt by the city's sanitation workers, who were on strike protesting low pay and poor working conditions.

But, speaking hours before his assassination, the civil rights leader went beyond that subject, touching on death and his own mortality.

"There had been so many death threats against his life, especially since he had come out against the war in Vietnam," says the Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, who was listening to King just a few feet away. "But he talked about death more that night than we'd heard him talk about it in a long while."

'Glad You Didn't Sneeze'

In 1958, King was stabbed in the chest with a letter opener by a deranged woman while autographing copies of his first book in a Harlem department store. The tip of the blade came so close to his aorta that his doctor said a sneeze would have killed King. While he was recovering, King received a letter from a teenage girl, who wrote, "I'm so glad you didn't sneeze."

Ten years later, in the speech at the Mason Temple, King took up that theme, saying if he had sneezed, he would not have been around in 1960, when students began sitting-in at lunch counters, or in subsequent years to see the freedom riders, the march in Selma and other key events in the civil rights movement.

The passage brought the crowd to its feet.

'He Took Us to the Mountaintop'

"Many of us, grown men, were crying," Kyles tells Renee Montagne. "We didn't know why we were crying. We had no way of knowing that would be the last speech of his life. And then he took us to the mountaintop . "

Kyles says he's "so certain" that King "knew he wouldn't get there, but he wouldn't tell us that. That would have been too heavy for us, so he softened it."

Afterward, "we had to help him to his seat behind that powerful, prophetic speech," Kyles says.

"He preached himself through the fear of death," Kyles says. "He just got it out of him. He just . dealt with it. And we were just standing there. It was like, what did he know that we didn't know?"

A Dream Partially Fulfilled

Kyles, who still preaches in Memphis, says that while much of King's dream has been realized, there's much more to do.

When he speaks to people who were not alive or too young to remember King, Kyle says he tells them, "we're not going to get to the place where we can say, 'Dr. King's dream has been realized. Now we can go to the beach.' That's not going to happen. Much of it has been realized, but there is so much to do. But each generation will have its portion, and that helps to keep the dream alive."


Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes and Speeches

In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s enduring legacy and powerful words, here is a list of some important speeches he made during his life. We’ve pulled some of our favorite quotes, but we urge you to read and watch them in their entirety to understand and appreciate the full depth of Dr. King’s radical work.

“Paul’s Letter to American Christians” (1956)

“Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. If you are to be a truly Christian nation you must solve this problem…You can work within the framework of democracy to bring about a better distribution of wealth. You can use your powerful economic resources to wipe poverty from the face of the earth. God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”

Listen to the sermon below, or read the transcript here.

“I Have a Dream” (1963)

“We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating for whites only. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963)

“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.”

Read the full letter here, which Dr. King began drafting in the margins of a newspaper editorial while imprisoned.

Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (1964)

“Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

Listen to the lecture below, or read the transcript here.

“Proud to be Maladjusted” (1966)

“There are some things in our nation and the world for which I am proud to be maladjusted and wish all men of goodwill would be maladjusted until the good society is realized. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to a religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leaving millions of people smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence.”

Watch a clip of the address below, and read the transcript here.

“The Other America” (1967)

“I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

“The Three Evils of Society” (1967)

“And so the collision course is set. The people cry for freedom and the congress attempts to legislate repression. Millions, yes billions, are appropriated for mass murder but the most meager pittance of foreign aid for international development is crushed in the surge of reaction. Unemployment rages at a major depression level in the black ghettos, but the bi-partisan response is an anti-riot bill rather than a serious poverty program.”

“Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” (1967)

“If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read ‘Vietnam.’ It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that ‘America will be’ are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.”

Listen to the audio recording below, and read the transcript here.

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” (1968)

“All we say to America is to be true to what you said on paper…Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights. And so just as I say we aren’t going to let any dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on. We need all of you.”

There are many more speeches and writings available and we encourage you to watch, listen to, and read them. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University is a great resource, as is The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

And in the true spirit of Dr. King, we hope you take time today and all days to serve your community and help people who need help. Only together can we achieve his dream.


What is the last word of Martin Luther King, Jr.&aposs famous "I Have a Dream" speech?

Answer time 0s (0s). 27% have previously answered correct on this question. The question was created 2019-03-26.

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