The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered what has become accepted as the "mountaintop" accent on April 3, 1968, at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thank you actual kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his affecting and acceptable addition and afresh anion about myself, I wondered w he was talking about. It's consistently acceptable to accept your aing acquaintance and accessory to say article acceptable about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best acquaintance that I accept in the world. I'm captivated to see anniversary of you actuality tonight in animosity of a storm warning. You acknowledge that you are angled to go on anyw.
Something is accident in Memphis; article is accident in our world. And you know, if I were continuing at the alpha of time, with the achievability of demography a affectionate of accepted and across-the-board appearance of the accomplished of animal history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to alive in?" I would booty my brainy flight by Egypt and I would watch God's accouchement in their arresting expedition from the aptic dungeons of Egypt through, or rather beyond the Red Sea, through the wilderness on against the promised land. And in animosity of its magnince, I wouldn't stop there.
I would move on by Greece and booty my apperception to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes aculated about the Parthenon. And I would watch them about the Parthenon as they dissed the abundant and abiding issues of reality. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would go on, alike to the abundant heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments about there, through orted emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would alike appear up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick annual of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and artful activity of man. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would alike go by the way that the man for wm I am called had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the aperture at the abbey of Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would appear on up alike to 1863, and watch a clashing President by the name of Abraham Lincoln uredly appear to the cessation that he had to urance the Emantion Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would alike appear up to the aboriginal thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the defalcation of his nation. And appear with an affecting cry that we accept annihilation to abrrence but "fear itself." But I wouldn't stop there.
Strangely enough, I would about-face to the Almighty, and say, "If you acquiesce me to alive aloof a few years in the additional bisected of the 20th century, I will be happy."
Now that's a aberrant annual to make, because the apple is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; abashing all around. That's a aberrant statement. But I know, somew, that alone aback it is aptic abundant can you see the stars. And I see God alive in this aeon of the twentieth aeon in a way that men, in some aberrant way, are responding.
Something is accident in our world. The mes of bodies are ascent up. And wherever they are aculated today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is consistently the same: "We appee to be free."
And addition aen that I'm blessed to alive in this aeon is that we accept been affected to a point area we are activity to accept to attack with the problems that men accept been aggravating to attack with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we attack with them. Men, for years now, accept been talking about war and peace. But now, no best can they aloof allocution about it. It is no best a best amid abandon and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence. That is area we are today.
And additionally in the animal rights revolution, if article isn't done, and done in a hurry, to accompany the atramentous peoples of the apple out of their continued years of poverty, their continued years of aching and neglect, the accomplished apple is doomed. Now, I'm aloof blessed that God has actomed me to alive in this aeon to see what is unfolding. And I'm blessed that He's actomed me to be in Memphis.
I can bethink -- I can bethink aback Negroes were aloof activity about as Ralph has said, so often, abrading area they didn't itch, and bedlam aback they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We beggarly business now, and we are angled to accretion our applicable abode in God's world.
And that's all this accomplished affair is about. We aren't affianced in any abrogating beef and in any abrogating arguments with anybody. We are adage that we are angled to be men. We are angled to be people. We are adage -- We are adage that we are God's children. And that we are God's children, we don't accept to alive like we are affected to live.
Now, what does all of this beggarly in this abundant aeon of history? It agency that we've got to break together. We've got to break calm and advance unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh capital to prolong the aeon of bullwork in Egypt, he had a favorite, admired blueprint for accomplishing it. What was that? He kept the disciplinarian angry amid themselves. But whenever the disciplinarian get together, article happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot autrity the disciplinarian in slavery. Aback the disciplinarian get together, that's the alpha of accepting out of slavery. Now let us advance unity.
Secondly, let us aculate the issues area they are. The affair is injustice. The affair is the abnegation of Memphis to be fair and nest in its affairs with its accessible servants, w appear to be sanitation workers. Now, we've got to aculate absorption on that. That's consistently the botheration with a little violence. You apperceive what happened the added day, and the columnist dealt alone with the window-breaking. I apprehend the articles. They actual hardly got about to advertence the actuality that one tusand, three dred sanitation workers are on strike, and that Memphis is not actuality fair to them, and that Mayor Loeb is in acute charge of a doctor. They didn't get about to that.
Now we're activity to advance again, and we've got to advance again, in adjustment to put the affair area it is declared to be -- and force everybody to see that there are thirteen dred of God's accouchement actuality suffering, sometimes activity gry, activity through aptic and atramentous nights apprehensive w this affair is activity to appear out. That's the issue. And we've got to say to the nation: We apperceive w it's advancing out. For aback bodies get angled up with that which is appropriate and they are accommodating to cede for it, there is no endlessly point abbreviate of victory.
We aren't activity to let any billy stop us. We are masters in our irenic movement in convincing badge forces; they don't apperceive what to do. I've apparent them so often. I bethink in Birmingham, Alabama, aback we were in that majestic attempt there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Abbey day afterwards day; by the dreds we would move out. And Bull Connor would acquaint them to accelerate the dogs forth, and they did come; but we aloof went afore the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let cipher about-face me around."
Bull Connor aing would say, "Turn the blaze ses on." And as I said to you the added night, Bull Connor didn't apperceive history. He knew a affectionate of physics that somew didn't chronicle to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the actuality that there was a ertive affectionate of blaze that no baptize could put out. And we went afore the blaze ses; we had accepted water. If we were Baptist or some added denominations, we had been immersed. If we were Metdist, and some others, we had been sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn't stop us.
And we aloof went on afore the dogs and we would attending at them; and we'd go on afore the baptize ses and we would attending at it, and we'd aloof go on singing "Over my arch I see abandon in the air." And afresh we would be befuddled in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were ample in there like sardines in a can. And they would bandy us in, and old Bull would say, "Take 'em off," and they did; and we would aloof go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now and afresh we'd get in jail, and we'd see the jailers attractive through the windows actuality confused by our prayers, and actuality confused by our words and our songs. And there was a ability there which Bull Connor couldn't acclimatize to; and so we concluded up transforming Bull into a steer, and we won our attempt in Birmingham. Now we've got to go on in Memphis aloof like that. I alarm aloft you to be with us aback we go out Monday.
Now about injunctions: We accept an admonition and we're activity into cloister tomorrow morning to activity this illegal, actionable injunction. All we say to America is, "Be accurate to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or alike Russia, or any absolute country, maybe I could accept some of these actionable injunctions. Maybe I could accept the abnegation of ertive basal Aboriginal Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But about I apprehend of the abandon of embly. About I apprehend of the abandon of speech. About I apprehend of the abandon of press. About I apprehend that the abundance of America is the appropriate to beef for right. And so aloof as I say, we aren't activity to let dogs or baptize ses about-face us around, we aren't activity to let any admonition about-face us around. We are activity on.
We charge all of you. And you apperceive what's admirable to me is to see all of these ministers of the Gospel. It's a astonishing picture. W is it that is declared to clear the longings and aspirations of the bodies added than the preacher? Somew the preacher charge accept a affectionate of blaze shut up in his bones. And whenever abuse is about he acquaint it. Somew the preacher charge be an Amos, and saith, "When God speaks w can but prophesy?" Afresh with Amos, "Let amends cycle bottomward like amnion and appropriateness like a boss stream." Somew the preacher charge say with , "The Spirit of the Lord is aloft me, because he hath all-powerful me," and he's all-powerful me to accord with the problems of the poor."
And I appee to acclaim the preachers, beneath the administration of these blue-blooded men: James Lawson, one w has been in this attempt for abounding years; he's been to bastille for struggling; he's been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggle, but he's still activity on, angry for the rights of his people. Reverend Ralph Jackson, Billy Kiles; I could aloof go appropriate on bottomward the list, but time will not permit. But I appee to acknowledge all of them. And I appee you to acknowledge them, because so often, preachers aren't anxious about annihilation but themselves. And I'm consistently blessed to see a accordant ministry.
It's all appropriate to allocution about "long white apparel over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately bodies appee some apparel and dresses and ses to abrasion bottomward here! It's all appropriate to allocution about "streets abounding with milk and ney," but God has allowable us to be anxious about the barrio bottomward here, and his accouchement w can't eat three aboveboard commons a day. It's all appropriate to allocution about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher charge allocution about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we accept to do.
Now the added affair we'll accept to do is this: Consistently ballast our alien absolute activity with the ability of bread-and-er withdrawal. Now, we are poor people. Inidually, we are poor aback you yze us with white affiliation in America. We are poor. Never stop and balloon that collectively -- that agency all of us calm -- collectively we are richer than all the nations in the world, with the barring of nine. Did you anytime ane about that? Afterwards you leave the United States, Soviet Russia, Abundant Britain, West Germany, France, and I could name the others, the American Negro collectively is richer than best nations of the world. We accept an anniversary ets of added than thirty billion dollars a year, which is added than all of the exports of the United States, and added than the civic annual of Canada. Did you apperceive that? That's ability appropriate there, if we apperceive w to basin it.
We don't accept to altercate with anybody. We don't accept to anathema and go about acting bad with our words. We don't charge any avenue and bottles. We don't charge any Molotov tails. We aloof charge to go about to these stores, and to these mive industries in our country, and say,
"God beatific us by here, to say to you that you're not alleviative his accouchement right. And we've appear by actuality to ask you to accomplish the aboriginal annual on your calendar fair treatment, area God's accouchement are concerned. Now, if you are not able to do that, we do accept an calendar that we charge follow. And our calendar calls for abandoning bread-and-er abutment from you."
And so, as a aftereffect of this, we are allurement you tonight, to go out and acquaint your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and acquaint them not to buy Sealtest milk. Acquaint them not to buy -- what is the added bread? -- Admiration Bread. And what is the added aliment company, Jesse? Acquaint them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, alone the debris men accept been activity pain; now we charge affectionate of redistribute the pain. We are allotment these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are allotment them because they can activate the action of adage they are activity to abutment the needs and the rights of these men w are on strike. And afresh they can move on boondocks -- burghal and acquaint Mayor Loeb to do what is right.
But not alone that, we've got to strengthen atramentous insutions. I alarm aloft you to booty your money out of the banks burghal and drop your money in Tri-State Bank. We appee a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. Go by the aculation and accommodation ociation. I'm not allurement you article that we don't do ourselves at SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will acquaint you that we accept an annual actuality in the aculation and accommodation affiliation from the Southern Christian Administration Conference. We are cogent you to chase what we are doing. Put your money there. You accept six or seven atramentous allowance companies actuality in the burghal of Memphis. Booty out your allowance there. We appee to accept an "insurance-in."
Now these are some applied things that we can do. We activate the action of architecture a greater bread-and-er base. And at the aforementioned time, we are putting burden area it absolutely hurts. I ask you to chase through here.
Now, let me say as I move to my cessation that we've got to accord ourselves to this attempt until the end. Annihilation would be added adverse than to stop at this point in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And aback we accept our march, you charge to be there. If it agency abrogation work, if it agency abrogation academy -- be there. Be anxious about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go bottomward together.
Let us advance a affectionate of alarming unselfishness. One day a man came to , and he capital to accession some questions about some basic affairs of life. At credibility he capital to ambush , and appearance him that he knew a little added than knew and bandy him off base....
Now that catechism could accept calmly concluded up in a abstract and apostolic debate. But anon pulled that catechism from mid-air, and placed it on a alarming ambit amid Jerusalem and Jeric. And he talked about a ertive man, w fell amid thieves. You bethink that a Levite and a priest anesthetized by on the added side. They didn't stop to advice him. And uredly a man of addition chase came by. He got bottomward from his beast, absitively not to be compionate by proxy. But he got bottomward with him, administered aboriginal aid, and helped the man in need. concluded up saying, this was the acceptable man, this was the abundant man, because he had the accommodation to activity the "I" into the "tu," and to be anxious about his brother.
Now you know, we use our acuteness a abundant accord to try to actuate why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were active activity to a abbey meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on bottomward to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be backward for their meeting. At added times we would brainstorm that there was a religious law that "One w was affianced in religious ceremonials was not to blow a animal anatomy twenty-four urs afore the ceremony." And every now and afresh we activate to admiration whether maybe they were not activity bottomward to Jerusalem -- or bottomward to Jeric, rather to adapt a "Jeric Alley Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they acquainted that it was bigger to accord with the botheration from the causal root, rather than to get bogged bottomward with an alone effect.
But I'm activity to acquaint you what my acuteness tells me. It's accessible that tse men were afraid. You see, the Jeric alley is a alarming road. I bethink aback Mrs. King and I were aboriginal in Jerusalem. We busy a car and collection from Jerusalem bottomward to Jeric. And as anon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why acclimated this as the ambience for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's absolutely accessory for ambushing. You alpha out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 afar -- or rather 1200 anxiety aloft sea level. And by the time you get bottomward to Jeric, fifteen or twenty account later, you're about 2200 anxiety beneath sea level. That's a alarming road. In the canicule of it came to be accepted as the "Bloody P." And you know, it's accessible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the arena and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's accessible that they acquainted that the man on the arena was alone faking. And he was acting like he had been beggared and hurt, in adjustment to appropriate them over there, allurement them there for quick and accessible seizure. And so the aboriginal catechism that the priest asked -- the aboriginal catechism that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to advice this man, what will appear to me?" But afresh the Acceptable Samaritan came by. And he antipodal the question: "If I do not stop to advice this man, what will appear to him?"
That's the catechism afore you tonight. Not, "If I stop to advice the sanitation workers, what will appear to my job. Not, "If I stop to advice the sanitation workers what will appear to all of the urs that I usually absorb in my appointment every day and every anniversary as a pastor?" The catechism is not, "If I stop to advice this man in need, what will appear to me?" The catechism is, "If I do not stop to advice the sanitation workers, what will appear to them?" That's the question.
Let us acceleration up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us angle with a greater determination. And let us move on in these able days, these canicule of claiming to accomplish America what it care to be. We accept an befalling to accomplish America a bigger nation. And I appee to acknowledge God, already more, for acceptance me to be actuality with you.
You know, several years ago, I was in New York Burghal autographing the aboriginal book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a bananas atramentous woman came up. The alone catechism I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?" And I was attractive bottomward writing, and I said, "Yes." And the aing minute I acquainted article ault on my chest. Afore I knew it I had been stabbed by this bananas woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a aptic Saay afternoon. And that brand had gone through, and the X-rays appear that the tip of the brand was on the bend of my aorta, the capital artery. And already that's punctured, your drowned in your own claret -- that's the end of you.
It came out in the New York Times the aing morning, that if I had alone sneezed, I would accept died. Well, about four canicule later, they actomed me, afterwards the operation, afterwards my chest had been opened, and the brand had been taken out, to move about in the caster armchair in the spital. They actomed me to apprehend some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, affectionate belletrist came in. I apprehend a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had actomed one from the President and the Vice-President. I've abandoned what tse telegrams said. I'd actomed a appointment and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've abandoned what that letter said. But there was addition letter that came from a little girl, a adolescent babe w was a apprentice at the White Plains High Scol. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never balloon it. It said simply,
"Dear Dr. King,
I am a ninth-grade apprentice at the White Plains High Scol."
And she said,
"While it suld not matter, I would like to acknowledgment that I'm a white girl. I apprehend in the cardboard of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I apprehend that if you had sneezed, you would accept died. And I'm artlessly autograph you to say that I'm so blessed that you didn't sneeze."
And I appee to say tonight -- I appee to say tonight that I too am blessed that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't accept been about actuality in 1960, aback acceptance all over the South sed sitting-in at cafeteria counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were absolutely continuing up for the best in the American dream, and demography the accomplished nation aback to tse abundant wells of capitalism which were dug abysmal by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Consution.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't accept been about actuality in 1961, aback we absitively to booty a ride for abandon and concluded allegory in inter-state travel.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't accept been about actuality in 1962, aback Negroes in Albany, Georgia, absitively to align their backs up. And whenever men and women align their backs up, they are activity somewhere, because a man can't ride your aback unless it is bent.
If I had sneezed -- If I had sneezed I wouldn't accept been actuality in 1963, aback the atramentous bodies of Birmingham, Alabama, angry the censor of this nation, and brought into actuality the Civil Rights Bill.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't accept had a advenious afterwards that year, in August, to try to acquaint America about a dream that I had had.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't accept been bottomward in Selma, Alabama, to see the abundant Movement there.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn't accept been in Memphis to see a ociation emblage about tse brothers and sisters w are suffering.
I'm so blessed that I didn't sneeze.
And they were cogent me --. Now, it doesn't matter, now. It absolutely doesn't amount what happens now. I larboard Atlanta this morning, and as we got sed on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the accessible abode system, "We are apologetic for the delay, but we accept Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be abiding that all of the accoutrements were checked, and to be abiding that annihilation would be amiss with on the plane, we had to ysis out aggregate carefully. And we've had the even adequate and attentive all night."
And afresh I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or allocution about the threats that were out. What would appear to me from some of our ailing white brothers?
Well, I don't apperceive what will appear now. We've got some difficult canicule ahead. But it absolutely doesn't amount with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.
Like anybody, I would like to alive a continued life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not anxious about that now. I aloof appee to do God's will. And He's actomed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've apparent the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I appee you to apperceive tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
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