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Dr Martin Luther King Jr Speeches

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Ive Been To The Mountaintop Memphis Tennessee On April 3 1968

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speech, Kingstree, SC, May 1966 on voting

Just one day before he was assassinated, King gave his final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” He gave the speech to a packed church of workers protesting working conditions. In the talk, the reverend emphasized his main beliefs: unifying African Americans and the importance of nonviolent protests.

But the speech is most known for being oddly prophetic, seeming to predict his death just the next day, highlighting the fact that he has accepted his fate.

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now,” King said in his final speech. “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. Like anybody I would like to live a long life, longevity has its place but I’m not concerned about that now … 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.”

He ended the speech with: “I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

The Significance Of Martin Luther King’s Speech

The 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were tremendously challenging times for African-Americans. They were not treated like white Americans just because of their skin color. Although slavery in the United States ended in the late 19th century, institutionalized racism continued to oppress African Americans even decades later. By the mid-20th century, blacks were still forced to use separate public utilities and schools from the superior ones reserved for whites they suffered routine discrimination in employment and housing, as well as abuse and lynching from some whites, and they were unable to fully exercise their right to vote.

Sermons And Speeches Of Martin Luther King Jr

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The sermons and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., comprise an extensive catalog of American writing and oratory some of which are internationally well-known, while others remain unheralded and await rediscovery.

King himself observed, “In the quiet recesses of my heart, I am fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher.”

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Our God Is Marching On

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Kings on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, near the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where hes launched the Montgomery bus boycott. Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. George Wallace cowers in his office with blinds drawn.

When the enthusiastic crowd joins King in chanting Glory hallelujah! at the end of his speech, the march transforms into a roaring church revival.

The Selma campaign would spark the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Key quotes: Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us.

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again. How long? Not long! Because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long! Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

I Have A Dream Speech By Dr Martin L King Jr

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay on the speech I Have a Dream by Martin L. King, Jr.August 28, 1963 was a day that will never be forgotten, in particular not by the citizens of Washington, DC. The city where the great Lincoln memorial gazes across the reflecting pool. Where Lincoln himself, recreated in stone, is looking at the visitors of the city as a president who will never leave his position. At exactly that day and exactly that spot Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his most famous speech I Have a Dream.

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Mlk: A Call To Conscience

  • MLK: A Call to ConscienceThis episode delves into one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatest speeches, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” which he delivered on April 4, 1967. This speech is acknowledged to be one of Dr. King’s most powerful speeches. With the help of Vincent Harding, Clayborne Carson, Harry Belafonte, Susannah Heschel, Cornel West, and others, Tavis Smiley deconstructs the meaning of the speech, and puts it in a contemporary context, particularly in light of the United State’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break The Silence’

Although King had spoken about his opposition to the Vietnam War publicly since 1965, his Beyond Vietnam speechdelivered on April 4, 1967is considered his first major public statement that centered on making a case against American involvement in the conflict.

Addressing a crowd of approximately 3,000 people in Riverside Church in New York City, King outlined seven reasons why he thought it was time that he, as a civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, needed to take a stance on the Vietnam War. These included the economic burdens of sending American troops to fight in Vietnam , and the ongoing violence against Vietnamese civilians caught in the crossfire. This ended up being one of Kings most controversial speeches.

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the Black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.

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The Power Of Dr Kings Speeches

Dr. Kings 1963 I Have a Dream Speech delivered at the March on Washington is widely quoted, yet his speeches delivered after the March are less well-known. In these addresses, Dr. King explicitly made connections between poverty and racism, advocating for economic liberation and dignity of all groups in the United States. On July 4th, 1965, Dr. King delivered a sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia entitled The American Dream. He uses the extended metaphor of the dream to assert his dissatisfaction with continued racial and class oppression after the March and after the 1964 presidential election. During the climax of the sermon, when describing the need to treat each person with dignity, as they are all created in the image of God, Dr. King proclaims the urgency of uniting with the labor movement for economic justice. Can you spot the use of antiphony, or call-and-response, here?

This is why we must join the war against poverty and believe in the dignity of all work. What makes a job menial? Im tired of this stuff about menial labor. What makes it menial is that we dont pay folk anything. Give somebody a job and pay them some money so they can live and educate their children and buy a home and have the basic necessities of life. And no matter what the job is, it takes on dignity.

‘the Three Evils Of Society’

MLK: The Other America

On August 31, 1967, King delivered the keynote address at the National Conference on New Politics in Chicago to an audience of roughly 3,000 people. In his speech, he made the case that racism, excessive materialism and militarism are all forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle, referring to them as the three evils of American society. Lasting nearly 45 minutes, Kings address discusses the existence of racism since the birth of the country, and calls on the government to end the war in Vietnam, and enact policies to alleviate poverty.

For the good of America, it is necessary to refute the idea that the dominant ideology in our country, even today, is freedom and equality while racism is just an occasional departure from the norm on the part of a few bigoted extremists. Racism can well be that corrosive evil that will bring down the curtain on western civilization.

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Speeches By Martin Luther King Jr On Audio & Video

In recent years many of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s speeches have been made available for free on audio & video from The King Institute at Stanford and The King Center in Atlanta. In this post well feature 35 prominent speeches and sermons that Dr. King delivered in his lifetime that are available to listen to for free on audio & video.

You can browse all of the speeches and sermons of Dr. King that we feature on his author page, along with some audio books of his speeches and some interviews he did:

I Have a Dream Speech

Delivered on August 28th, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Kings passionate call for justice and equality was the battle cry for the Civil Rights Movement in America. The 17-minute speech called for an end to racism in the United States during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ive Been to the Mountaintop Speech

On April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The night before he was assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his prophetic Ive Been to the Mountaintop speech. In this stirring speech Dr. King looks back on his life and is thankful for all the positive changes in civil rights that occurred in his lifetime, and he is grateful to have lived in the second half of the 20th century when masses of people all over the world were standing up for freedom and human rights.

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Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

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Many Americans saw the U.S. engagement in a conflict thousands of miles away as pointless, especially one that caused so much damage at home and abroad.

It was in the midst of anti-Vietnam protests that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered A Time to Break Silence. Kings speech effectively confronts both of these issues: civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam War.

Key quotes:

Each day the war goes, on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.

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King also underscores the dignity of all work, proclaiming that even menial workers should earn enough so they can live and educate their children and buy a home and have the basic necessities of life.

Key quotes:

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Acceptance Speech At Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony December 10 1964

In 1964, King was 35 years old and the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. At the time of his honor, it had been a year since his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and the country just passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Along with the honor, he was given $54,600, which he donated to the movement.

Here’s a snippet of his acceptance speech:

“I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle, and to a movement which has not yet won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize,” King said. “After contemplation, I conclude that this award, which I receive on behalf of that movement, is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”

At the end of his speech, he called peace “more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.”

Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Memorable Martin Luther King Jr. quotes

“All that I have said boils down to the point of affirming that mankind’s survival is dependent upon man’s ability to solve the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war the solution of these problems is in turn dependent upon man squaring his moral progress with his scientific progress, and learning the practical art of living in harmony. Some years ago a famous novelist died. Among his papers was found a list of suggested story plots for future stories, the most prominently underscored being this one: “A widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together.” This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a big house, a great “world house” in which we have to live together black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.

This means that more and more our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. We must now give an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in our individual societies.

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Original Copy Of The Speech

As King waved goodbye to the audience, George Raveling, volunteering as a security guard at the event, asked King if he could have the original typewritten manuscript of the speech. Raveling, a star college basketball player for the Villanova Wildcats, was on the podium with King at that moment. King gave it to him. Raveling kept custody of the original copy, for which he has been offered $3 million, but he has said he does not intend to sell it. In 2021, he gave it to Villanova University. It is intended to be used in a “long-term ‘on loan’ arrangement.”

I Have Been To The Mountaintop

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The Black sanitation workers of Memphis, exhausted from battling a stubborn city administration for improved employment conditions, called in the cavalry: Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Weve got some difficult days ahead, King told an energized crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, where the citys sanitation workers were striking. But it really doesnt matter with me now, because Ive been to the mountaintop Ive 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.

Reflecting on his own mortality, King appeared to prophesize his death, as he was assassinated the following day. Though his speech was about so much more than Kings life and fate

It was an emphatic call to action for economic justice in America, a call that continues to be relevant today.

Key quotes:

We mean business now and we are determined to gain our rightful place in Gods world. And thats all this whole thing is about. We arent 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, that we are Gods children. And if we are Gods children, we dont have to live like we are forced to live.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life longevity has its place. But Im not concerned about that now. I just want to do Gods will.

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Montgomery Bus Boycott Speech Montgomery Alabama On December 5 1955

When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus, she sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and gave King one of his first opportunities to make a public speech. It was in this speech that he introduced some of his now-famous ideas, including nonviolent protests.

“Now let us go out to stick together and stay with this thing until the end,” King said in the speech. “Now it means sacrificing, yes, it means sacrificing at points. But there are some things that we’ve got to learn to sacrifice for. And we’ve got to come to the point that we are determined not to accept a lot of things that we have been accepting in the past.”

The speech catapulted the reverend into the national spotlight and made him one of the front-runners in the Civil Rights Movement.

Ive Been To The Mountaintop

Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech Let Freedom Ring

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.

Start with the date on this one: thats April 3, 1968, the night before King was assassinated. In this speech, which summons Kings primary background as a preacher, he returns to the story of Moses. Rather than speaking on the joy of the Exodus, though, he turns to the end of Moses life, and his death just outside the Promised Land to which he had delivered his people. King casts himself as another leader who may not be there for the end of the journey. He used Christian values and Democratic traditions to bring people together, so its not surprising that he goes to this idea, Calloway-Thomas says. Whats significant here is when it occurred. It was almost apocalyptic. Because it occurred at that time it has lingering significance and carries with it an abundance of pathos.

Of course, as Calloway-Thomas says, we can imagine a scenario in which King gave this speech and then lived. The emotional resonance of his words might be lessened without the seemingly prescient layer of fate, but the story would be there all the same. Heres a man talking about longevity, heres a man talking about gods Will, heres a man talking about going up to the mountaintop and looking skyward toward heaven and looking over into the Promised Land, she says. Its a gorgeous story.

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