The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is Long But It Bends Toward Justice
from Dr. Kings speech at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968.
Connie Field said Dr. Kings quote had guided much of her work as an award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Dr. King presented a vision of an equal, multiracial society, she said. He presented a vision of economic equality. And he presented a vision of a political struggle thats nonviolent. Those are three things that we can all try to live by and strive for today.
She added: Whats going on in the United States, what we witnessed on Jan. 6, all has to do with a backlash to the fact that our world is changing. Its going on here in America its going on in Europe. Were becoming a more intertwined world, a more multicultural world. Thats the trajectory of history, and theres no going back on that. That quote completely underscores everything Im talking about a just world is an equal world, equal no matter what our race is.
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 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
from Dr. Kings I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.
Bernard Lafayette, 80, recalled the words from the I Have a Dream speech as a reminder that the turmoil the country is witnessing today is not the way things have to be, and its not something we have to accept, but should be understood as another step on the long journey that Dr. King described, with each shift connected to the events that precede it.
The violence at the Capitol, he said, reflected the fear from some members of our society that they were losing political power.
You have to ask the question, What are these people afraid of? Well, they are afraid they would lose power, they would lose control and the election in Georgia exacerbated that, he said. These fears that are being perpetrated, theyre really false fears, because no one is going to take anything away from them.
Our God Is Marching On
After completion of protest marches in Selma, Alabama, Martin Luther King made the following speech on the steps of the State Capitol.
My dear and abiding friends, Ralph Abernathy, and to all of the distinguished Americans seated here on the rostrum, my friends and co-workers of the state of Alabama, and to all of the freedom-loving people who have assembled here this afternoon from all over our nation and from all over the world: Last Sunday, more than eight thousand of us started on a mighty walk from Selma, Alabama. We have walked through desolate valleys and across the trying hills. We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. Some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains. Our bodies are tired and our feet are somewhat sore.
But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard saida seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in this community during the bus boycottand one day, she was asked while walking if she didnt want to ride. And when she answered, No, the person said, Well, arent you tired? And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, My feets is tired, but my soul is rested. And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, but our souls are rested.
Let us march on ballot boxes, march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena.
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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
from Dr. King speech in Memphis on April 3, 1968, a day before he was assassinated.
Rutha Mae Harris, 80, of Albany, Ga., said she believed Dr. Kings speeches often warned of the kind of conflict that unfolded in Washington on Jan. 6. Ms. Harris, who marched with Dr. King during the civil rights era, recalled, in particular, the famous speech he gave in Memphis a day before he was killed.
With the rhetoric of Trump, I myself knew that something would happen, she said. This had been building up for four years. She said Dr. King was a man of vision, but that the vision captured the darkness as well as the light. She noted, He said, I might not get there with you, and, of course, you can read in between the lines.
Dr Kings Final Speech In April 1968
King gave his last speech I have been to the mountaintop at Mason Temple in Memphis on 3 April 1968. Towards the end of his 43-minute address, he said, 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. And Hes allowed me to go up to the mountain. And Ive looked over. And 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! The following day at 6 pm, he was assassinated at Lorraine Motel, he was 39 years old.
Below are a few examples of Dr. Kings writings and speeches which are available online at The King Center and through The King Institute Papers Project archives at Stanford University.
Why should one love his enemy? Because the process of hate for hate brings disaster to all involved. Because hate distort the whole personality. Because love has within in a redemptive power.
I do not come here with a message of bitterness, hate or despair. I come with a message of love and a message of hope. Press on and keep pressing. If you cant fly, run if you cant run, walk if you cant walk crawl!
The word, integration, is probably one of the best-known words in our language now. It is on the lips of statesmen of all races it is a big word in our society.
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I Have A Dream Washington Dc August 28 1963
Perhaps no speech in US history is revered more than Dr. Kings I Have a Dream. It is read annually in many history and speech classes and well it should be. Dr. 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.
The speech rings like a sermon with references to the Bible, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of US Independence. It is a speech about the pain of African-American communities, brilliantly highlighting the injustices of the past while lighting a path for future hope.
- I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
- I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
- I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break The Silence Riverside Church In New York City On April 4 1967
King’s speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” is well known because of the debate it sparked. He gave the anti-Vietnam speech when the country still supported the war. King received extreme backlash, especially for attempting to unite the peace movement with the Civil Rights Movement. The reverend’s controversial views caused him to lose many supporters, including African American followers. Many say this is the speech that made him a target, as he was assassinated exactly one year later.
“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,” he said the speech.
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‘the Quest For Peace And Justice’
On December 11, 1964, King delivered a lecture in the auditorium of the University of Oslo after officially being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the day before. Speaking to an audience of Norwegian monarchs and politicians, as well as the Nobel Prize Committee, King’s lecture was more academic than his usual speeches, while still touching on the same themes of racial justice, nonviolent resistance, and moral and spiritual development. He also made a case as to why economic inequality must be addressed and included in any path towards peace, referring to poverty as one of the most urgent items on the agenda of modern life.
“I am only too well aware of the human weaknesses and failures which exist, the doubts about the efficacy of nonviolence, and the open advocacy of violence by some. But I am still convinced that nonviolence is both the most practically sound and morally excellent way to grapple with the age-old problem of racial injustice.”
Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break The Silence Riverside Church In New York City April 4 1967
Exactly one year before his assassination, Dr. King condemned the Vietnam War at a time when a majority of Americans still supported the effort. Dr. King was criticized for the speech, considered one of his most controversial, and lost supporters for being too political.
The speech created a firestorm of criticism. According to his advisor, Clarence B. Jones, people were saying, Well you know youre a civil rights leader, mind your own business. Talk about what you know about.
According to the MLK Institute, this speech was a stinging rebuke of the United States military aggression in Vietnam and its rising profile as a violent defender of democracy and world peace throughout our global community.
- For those who ask the question, Arent you a civil rights leader? and thereby mean to exclude me from the peace movement, I have this further answer.
- If Americas 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.
- We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
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‘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.
Quotes From 7 Of Martin Luther King Jr’s Most Notable Speeches
From ‘I Have a Dream’ to ‘Beyond Vietnam,’ revisit the words and messages of the legendary civil rights leader.
. was one of the most influential figures of the American civil rights movementand a gifted orator. His stirring speeches touched on everything from social and racial justice, to nonviolence, poverty, the Vietnam War and dismantling white supremacy. And while many have been inspired by his famousI Have a Dream speech, King tackled a wide range of themes and causes and inspired others to demand change.
Here are some examples of King’s speeches, sermons and lectures, along with their messages.
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Top 5 Most Memorable Speeches Dr Martin Luther King Jr
There may have been no greater orator in the history of the United States than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His speeches ignited audiences and challenged Americans to act upon systemic injustices in the world around them.
Dr. Kings speeches are still memorized and studied in K-12 and college classrooms across the country and around the world. ThinkFives surveyed Peace Institutes and MLK Centers to identify these five speeches, which are considered some of his most famous and memorable.
Letter From Birmingham Jail
Below is a letter Martin Luther King Jr. wrote while imprisoned in Birmingham for his involvement in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation. The letter was in response to concerns brought forth in a public statement by eight white religious leaders of the South.
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities unwise and untimely. Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their thus saith the Lord far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Letter From A Birmingham Jail
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
Yes, this is a letter, not a speech or sermon but Calloway-Thomas says its worth including on such a list anyway. After all, the circumstances that created this letter are inherently linked to the fact that he couldnt deliver a speech in person. At the time, King found himself jailed in Alabama after ignoring an injunction against protests in Birmingham. During that time, a group of clergymen wrote an open letter urging him away from protests. He wanted to respond but, from the jail, his only option if he wanted to answer quickly was to write it down. Ideas have moments and if those moments arent used, you lose that rhetorical moment and it no longer has the force it had, Calloway-Thomas says.
So, in a format she likens to a spoken call and response, he answers the questions that were posed to him about his methods. While also explaining that hes on strong biblical footing, he provides the public with a way to understand the work hes doing. His rhetorical skills are also on display as he uses a story about his 6-year-old daughters early perceptions of racism and segregation to underline that the matter is not theoretical. In the years since, this letter has become one of 20th century American historys most famous documents.
The Words Of Martin Luther King Jr Reverberate In A Tumultuous Time
Dr. Kings speeches have particular resonance today amid a year of sickness and death, Black Lives Matter protests and the storming of the Capitol.
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He lived and died in a time of tumult and a racial awakening, so perhaps it is no surprise that the 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory: A raging pandemic. Protest and civil unrest after the killing of Black people by the police. A momentous election. And an insurrection.
Even the title of his final book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? seems ripped from todays headlines.
I think its still an unanswered question, said Clayborne Carson, a history professor at Stanford University, referring to the title of Dr. Kings book.
I think the most important word in that question is we who are we, and until you figure that out, its very hard to tell where we are going, said Dr. Carson, who is also the founder and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which is publishing a collection of Dr. Kings papers.
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