The Martin Luther King holiday often features stills and videos of Dr. King delivering his “I Have a Dream” during the March on Washington in 1963. And it is a brilliant speech.
But it is not his only brilliant speech. Dr. King, of course, delivered many more.
Since Norway has been in the news in the United States and around the world lately, (and January 15 is Dr. King’s actual birthday) today is the perfect day to present Dr. King’s Nobel acceptance speech and lecture.
In both the acceptance speech and lecture, he both indicts an unjust society while remaining boldly optimistic that it can change. It is quite the balancing act.
It is a balancing act that we are still trying to achieve: overcoming our “moral and spiritual lag” by choosing and embracing love.
(Recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize are selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The committee members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. Dr. King was the youngest recipient of the award at the time.)
A few excerpts. First, from his acceptance speech:
“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” given on April 3, was the last speech Dr. King delivered.
Read the text and listen to the speech below. I’ve also included a recording of Robert Kennedy delivering the sad news about Dr. King’s assassination to a shocked crowd in Indiana.
Finally, follow Rep. John Lewis’ insights on Dr. King’s assassination on Twitter.
And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” audio.
Robert Kennedy’s announcement of Dr. King’s assassination.
We end Black History Month with a few speeches from a most “dangerous” leader: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some may find it hard to believe that the oft-quoted Dr. King–with his holiday and national memorial, as well as streets and schools named in his honor–was ever considered to be dangerous. The FBI thought otherwise. Alarmed by the increasing stature he won after delivering the I Have a Dream Speech, the FBI’s surveillance of Dr. King sped into overdrive.
Yes. The very speech that is now so familiar to so many.
The power of the “I Have a Dream” speech, however, was that it was built, in part, on the solid foundation of outstanding speeches and oratory before it. So read or listen to his 1955 Address to the Montgomery Improvement Association and his 1957 “Give Us the Ballot,” speech at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom (an event held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.): lesser known speeches that no doubt helped build Dr. King’s stature.
Also be sure to read the Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March, ahead of President Obama’s visit to Selma, AL next week to mark the 50th Anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march.
Words most certainly have power.