On October 14, 1964, it was announced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize “for his non-violent struggle for civil rights.” Dr. King, just 35 years old at the time, would be the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. King is well known for his powerful and eloquent speeches. A master of rhetoric, Dr. King stands as one of the most admired and esteemed political, social, and cultural figures in modern US history. However, because of his dedication to challenging injustice and inequality that was upheld as law, Dr. King was one of the most hated people in the United States at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. His dedication to work and his determination to fight for what was right on his own terms despite challenges marked Dr. King as a great and respected leader.
To celebrate and remember his accomplishments, here are five memorable speeches that Dr. King gave throughout his life and career.
1. “I have a dream”
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered one of the most famous and studied speeches in the English language. In his speech, he pulled at our ethos and called for an end to racism and prejudice and for peace and understanding to reign over all people in the country.
2. “Our God is Marching On” (“How Long? Not Long”)
Dr. King delivered his “Our God is Marching On” speech, sometimes referred to as his “How Long? Not Long” speech On March 25, 1965, in Selma, Alabama. With 25,000 people, Dr. King marched from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama to fight for voting rights for African Americans. This speech marked the movement’s focus on economic equality.
3. “The Other America”
In his next speech, “The Other America,” Dr. King spoke on the economic injustices and the poverty gap that was rampant in Black communities across the United States. Delivered at Stanford University on April 14, 1967, Dr. King made sure to highlight the difference of experiences in Black America versus White America. In recent times, a line from this speech, “a riot is the language of the unheard,” made rounds around various social media platforms during the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests.
4. “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence”
On April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King gave one of his most controversial speeches, that many say made him a specific target as he was assassinated exactly a year later. In this speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” Dr. King eloquently expressed his position on the Vietnam War.
5. “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”
In Dr. King’s last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” he addressed a church in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3, 1968, full of workers protesting poor working conditions and low wages. Dr. King stressed the need for peaceful movement building and nonviolent protest. Additionally, he spoke on the struggles of the movement for justice and equality, but regardless, the unity of the people within any movement is its core strength. The following day on April 4, 1968, Dr. King would be assassinated.
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