May 17, 1957: “But even more, all types of conniving methods are still being used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters. The denial of this sacred right is a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition. And so our most urgent request to the president of the United States and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote.”
There is so much more to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy than his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech—and so many ways to honor his memory. We’ve gathered some of his greatest speeches and letters, from the most notable to the lesser-known, as well as tributes and remembrances from more than 50 years of journalism about the civil rights icon. Plus, ideas for how to be of service to your community, this week and all year round.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
April 16, 1963: “We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”
December 11, 1964: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”
April 4, 1967: “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors.”
April 14, 1967: “In a sense, the greatest tragedy of this other America is what it does to little children. Little children in this other America are forced to grow up with clouds of inferiority forming every day in their little mental skies.”
April 3, 1968, MLK‘s final speech: “But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … 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.”
The struggle to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day took place over half a century. As we celebrate it today, we should not forget that King’s holiday, his legacy, and his dream are still under siege.
Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, and Dr. Mira Foster, director of the Liberation Curriculum, talk about anything and everything related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the freedom struggles he inspired.
Street art depicting MLK as the preeminent spokesperson for peace, justice and freedom now includes the messages of Black Lives Matter.