Excerpts from Dr. King's last speech, supporting six thousand striking sanitation workers.
April 3rd 1968. Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was assassinated on April 4th 50 years ago.
"EVERYBODY CAN BE GREAT.
BECAUSE ANYBODY CAN SERVE...
You don't need to have a college degree to serve.
You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.
You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve.
You don't have to know the second theory of thermo-dynamics in physics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
"This is the judgement. Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?"
"Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind."
"When I say love at this point, I am Not talking about an affectionate emotion. It's nonsense to urge oppressed people to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. I'm talking about something much deeper. I'm talking about a sort of understanding creative redemptive goodwill for all men."
"All too many of those who live in affluent America ignore those who live in poor America;
"All too many of those who live in affluent America ignore those who live in poor America; in doing so, the affluent Americans will eventually have to face themselves with the question that Eichmann chose to ignore: How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows? To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it."
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and noble life."
"I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down, other-centred men can build up."
"If one day you find me sprawled and dead, I do not want you to retaliate with a single act of violence. I urge you to continue protesting with the same dignity and discipline you have shown so far."
"You have awakened
on hundreds of campuses throughout the land
a new spirit of social inquiry to the benefit
of all Americans.
...You will hear much about careers, security and prosperity. I will leave the discussions of such matters to your deans, principals and your valedictorians. But I do have a graduation thought to pass along to you. Whatever career you may choose for yourself - doctor, lawyer, teacher - let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life."
It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.
"I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't really matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. 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. And 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."