Frank Olito and Kenneth Niemeyer
- Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.
- But he gave numerous other moving talks during his years of activism.
- His final speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," is also famous for being strangely prophetic.
Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, but he gave numerous other powerful speeches.
Throughout his fight for equality, King delivered a number of speeches that drew large audiences but got lost in the shadow of "I Have a Dream."
As a master orator, the reverend was able to inspire an entire nation, so many of his speeches are worth a revisit.
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, here are some of King's inspirational words that you may have missed in history class.
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.
"Proud to be maladjusted" — Dartmouth College in 1962
Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech at Dartmouth College in 1962 is sometimes forgotten, but it's a great example of the reverend's powerful rhetoric. In the talk, he first explains the sociological term "maladjusted" as someone who cannot accept social norms and society. But King turns the entire term on its head, saying he is happy to be maladjusted if it means adapting to racism and a society built against him and his people.
"But I say to you, my friends, as I move to my conclusion, there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good society's realized," he said in the speech. "I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to racial segregation and discrimination."
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."
"Our God is Marching On" — Selma, Alabama, on March 25, 1965
In March 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. marched with 25,000 people from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to fight for African American voting rights. At the end of the march, the reverend gave his "Our God is Marching On" speech, which marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Instead of focusing on legal and political rights, King's speech prompted the movement to fight for economic equality.
At the end of the speech, King used a call-and-response technique that made this speech truly iconic.
"How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long, you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long ... How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," King said.
"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 in the speech.
"The Other America" – Stanford University on April 14, 1967
Just ten days after his controversial "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence" speech, the reverend gave another iconic speech at Stanford University. This time, he focused on the inequality between whites and blacks in America.
In "The Other America" he talked about how the poverty gap and economic injustice were a result of racism.
"One America is beautiful for situation … millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity," he says in the speech. "But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebullience of hope into the fatigue of despair … They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."
"The Three Evils of Society" — The Hungry Club Forum in Atlanta on May 10, 1967
In 1967, King visited the Hungry Club Forum, which was comprised of white politicians who met out of public view to discuss the idea of helping African Americans earn their rights. In May, King gave a speech highlighting the progress that had been made, but much of his speech focused on the three problems that blacks face: racism, poverty, and war.
"For those who are telling me to keep my mouth shut, I can't do that," he said at the end of his speech. "I'm against segregation at lunch counters, and I'm not going to segregate my moral concerns. And we must know on some positions, cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there're times when you must take a stand that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but you must do it because it is right."
"I’ve Been to the Mountaintop" – Memphis, Tennessee on April 3, 1968
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."
What were the most powerful MLK speeches? ›
“I Have a Dream” – Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963
In his most famous speech, 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.
Martin Luther King, Jr. : I Have a Dream Speech (1963) - U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea.What is the most powerful speech ever given? ›
- 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death', Patrick Henry. ...
- 'I Am Prepared To Die', Nelson Mandela. ...
- 'I Have A Dream', Martin Luther King. ...
- 'Quit India', Mahatma Gandhi. ...
- 'Speech at Clermont', Pope Urban II. ...
- 'The Third Philippic', Demosthenes. ...
- 'We Shall Fight on the Beaches', Winston Churchill.
1. I Have a Dream Speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.: Aug. 28, 1963.What are 3 famous speeches from MLK? ›
This companion volume to A Knock at Midnight features the landmark speeches of his career, including: "I Have a Dream"; his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize; his eulogy for the young victims of the Birmingham church bombing; and "I've Been to the Mountaintop," the last speech he gave before his death.Why was MLK speech so powerful? ›
King's firm belief in racial equality, civil rights and justice for all was part of what made his speech so powerful. Because he believed in the power of his cause and the beauty of a better future, the crowd of over 250,000 did as well. Without conviction, any change you're trying to accomplish will likely fall flat.How many famous speeches did MLK? ›
Martin Luther King gave over 2,500 public speeches during his lifetime – many of them were delivered without a manuscript and with few notes. The Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave over 2,500 public speeches during his lifetime – many of them were improvised, delivered without a manuscript and with maybe just a few notes.What is the best quotes from Martin Luther? ›
Martin Luther (Germany)
"Peace if possible; truth at all costs." "You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the Word which the Lord Who receives sinners preaches to you." "We need to hear the Gospel every day because we forget it every day." "Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness; I am Your sin.
"Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence", also referred as the Riverside Church speech, is an anti–Vietnam War and pro–social justice speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before he was assassinated.What was MLK last speech? ›
The speech, “I've Been to the Mountaintop,” was made in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968 — the day before he was assassinated. Take a few moments and read the closing paragraph.
What is true King's speech? ›
The King's Speech is based on the true story of Queen Elizabeth II's father and his friendship with his unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush.When was the last King's speech? ›
THE KING'S SPEECH. (Hansard, 15 August 1945)What are the 5 speeches that changed the world? ›
- Queen Elizabeth I—Speech to the Troops at Tilbury. ...
- Patrick Henry—Speech at the Second Virginia Convention. ...
- Mahatma Gandhi—Quit India Speeches. ...
- Eleanor Roosevelt—Address to the United Nations on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ...
- Martin Luther King Jr.
The Most Difficult Speech: The Eulogy.What is the shortest famous speech? ›
George Washington's second inaugural address remains the shortest ever delivered, at just 135 words. Fellow Citizens: I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate.What is the most protected speech? ›
Although it has not been put in a separate category, political speech has received the greatest protection. The Court has stated that the ability to criticize the government and government officials is central to the meaning of the First Amendment.What did MLK say about peace? ›
We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.Where did Dr King give his most famous speech? ›
MLK. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial toward the end of the March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., took the podium at the March on Washington and addressed the gathered crowd, which numbered 200,000 people or more.What 3 things did Martin Luther teach? ›
Luther's teaching, and that of the reformation, is often summarized in three “solas.” Sola gratia, sola fide and sola scriptura — by faith alone, by grace alone and by scripture alone.When did Martin Luther King give his most famous speech? ›
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered this iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
Was the I Have a Dream speech successful? ›
The eloquent speech was immediately recognized as a highlight of the successful protest, and has endured as one of the signature moments of the civil rights movement.Why are speeches so powerful? ›
It allows us to form connections, influence decisions, and motivate change. Without communication skills, the ability to progress in the working world and in life, itself, would be nearly impossible.What kind of speeches did MLK give? ›
Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. But he gave numerous other moving talks during his years of activism. His final speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," is also famous for being strangely prophetic.What are 5 famous quotes? ›
- The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - ...
- The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. - ...
- Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. ...
- If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor. -
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”What is the most famous line in I Have a 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-evident: that all men are created equal.”What is a famous MLK quote about love? ›
"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend." "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."What phrases does MLK repeat? ›
- “Now is the time” is repeated three times in the sixth paragraph.
- “One hundred years later”, “We can never be satisfied”, “With this faith”, “Let freedom ring”, and “free at last” are also repeated.
Martin Luther King gave the original “I have a dream” address. The below article gives historical background on his visit to Rocky Mount. In his speech, Nov. 27, 1962, in a gym at Atlantic Avenue and Spruce Street in Rocky Mount Rocky, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.What was the famous speech given in 1963? ›
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on Aug. 28, 1963, as part of the March on Washington.
What was the name of King's famous 1963 speech? ›
It was on this day in 1963 that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech as part of the March on Washington.What did MLK say before he died? ›
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. 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,” King concluded.Who said free at last? ›
“Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last,” Nelson Mandela said to a standing ovation, quoting words delivered in a speech whose 50th anniversary comes next week. Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.How true to life is the king's speech? ›
It's based on the true story of George VI, the father of the present queen of England. George VI was a man who, in the 1930s, desperately did not want to be king.Which King had a speech problem? ›
The new movie, The Kings Speech, documents Britain's King George VI as he struggles with stuttering, or stammering, as the Brits call it. A stutterer since childhood, Bertie – the kings nickname – feared becoming king because of the roles public speaking requirements.Is there a King's speech? ›
The King's Speech is the speech that the King reads out in the Lords Chamber on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.Will the king do a speech at Christmas? ›
King Charles' Christmas Day speech will be only his second address to the nation as King, having given his first address back in September after the Queen's passing. Want to know when his Christmas message will be delivered and how to tune in? Here's everything we know about the King's Speech 2022.Did the king do a Christmas speech? ›
King Charles's Christmas broadcast was the most watched Christmas TV address by a monarch on record, as the BBC claimed a festive viewing victory over streaming rivals such as Netflix.Is there a Kings speech at Christmas? ›
King uses first Christmas Day broadcast to pay tribute to those 'trying to keep their families warm' It is a historic first address - both for King Charles personally, and the UK, as it marks the first time a male monarch has made a televised speech on 25 December.What made MLK speech so powerful? ›
King's firm belief in racial equality, civil rights and justice for all was part of what made his speech so powerful. Because he believed in the power of his cause and the beauty of a better future, the crowd of over 250,000 did as well. Without conviction, any change you're trying to accomplish will likely fall flat.
What were some important speeches during the civil rights movement? ›
Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech
delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the Freedom March on Washington in 1963. King gave his most famous speech as the keynote address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.
Martin Luther King gave over 2,500 public speeches during his lifetime – many of them were delivered without a manuscript and with few notes.What famous speech was in 1963? ›
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on Aug. 28, 1963, as part of the March on Washington.What was the greatest civil rights speech? ›
'I have a dream' also became an enduring phrase worldwide as this speech helped massively in securing the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. This was arguably the most influential speech made during the civil rights movement and even during American history as a whole, revealing the power of rhetoric.What are some good short speeches? ›
- Abraham Lincoln's “The Gettysburg Address”
- 2. “ We Will Not Go Quietly Into the Night” Speech From “Independence Day”
- Neil Armstrong's Speech On the Moon.
- Baz Luhrmann and Mary Schmich: “Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”
- Winston Churchill's “Never Give In”
- 1963 — March on Washington.
- 1965 — Bloody Sunday.
- 1965 — Chicago Freedom Movement.
Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial toward the end of the March on Washington. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., took the podium at the March on Washington and addressed the gathered crowd, which numbered 200,000 people or more.What are the words of I Have a Dream Speech? ›
I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope.Where did Martin Luther King, Jr give his most famous I Have a Dream Speech? ›
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a speech to a massive group of civil rights marchers gathered around the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC.