Custom Search 1

Speeches and sermons: Martin Luther King in his own words

CIVIL RIGHTS: Martin Luther King was just 39 when he was killed

TODAY MARKS 50 years since Martin Luther King was assassinated. The American civil rights leader’s most well-known speech is arguably his ‘I have a dream speech’, but King delivered around 450 speeches a year and penned five books. Here are some of his words from a selection of speeches, sermons and letters.

The following quote is taken from King’s ‘Mountaintop speech’, delivered 50 years ago this week on April 3 1968.

“If something isn't done, and done in a hurry, to bring the coloured peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed.”

On April 4 1967, King spoke at Riverside Church in New York. Here’s an extract from his sermon that day, which many say is his most controversial. King was opposed to the Vietnam War and criticised it in this sermon.

"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. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools."

This monumental event was made into a film by Ava DuVernay. Here’s a quote from King’s 'Our God is Marching On' speech that he gave at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march.

"Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom.”

In his letter from Birmingham jail, King outlined what he saw as the great stumbling block in the civil rights movement.

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’.

His ‘I have a dream speech’ is arguably his most quoted. King delivered the famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on August 28 1963.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments