Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
15 January 1929 - 4 April 1968
a man of faith, love, courage, justice, peace, wisdom...
let his sacrificial life inspires every human beings
The third Monday of every January is the public holiday in USA
devoted to the great man Dr. King
Martin Luther King entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in February 1948 at the age of nineteen at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia.
He was arrested thirty times for his participation in civil rights activities.
The Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. At age 35, Dr. King was the youngest man, the second American, and the third black man awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. King's speech at the march on Washington in 1963, his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and his final speech in Memphis are among his most famous utterances (I've Been to the Mountaintop). The Letter from Birmingham Jail ranks among the most important American documents.
Time Line on the Life of Martin Luther King Jr.
1929- Martin Luther King Jr, was born to the parents of Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr. in Atalanta, Georgia
1948- Martin Luther King Jr. Graduates from Morehouse college, without ever graduating from high school
1953- King is married to Coretta Scott in Marion, Alabama.
1954- After choosing to become a minister the twentieth pastor of the Dexter Avenue Church, Montgomery.
1955- King receives his PHD from Boston University. Mrs. Rosa Parks is arrested for failing to give up a bus seat to a white man. African American's boycott the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. King is unanimously elected president of an organization named the Montgomery Improvement Association. Bus service in the Black neighborhoods is suspended.
1956- A bomb is thrown onto the porch of the King home in Montgomery. King is indicted on charges under charges of helping hinder the operation of buses without legal cause. District court rules that bus segregation is unconstitutional. Montgomery buses return to the African American neighborhoods with unsegregated service.
1957- Another bomb is placed on the porch of the King's home but fails to explode. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is founded King is elected its president. National guards are ordered by the vice president to escort 9 black students to a white high school. The Civil Rights Commission is created by the federal government.
1958- King's book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story is published by Harper & Row. King is stabbed in the chest while doing a book signing in the heart of Harlem. The stabber, Mrs. Izola Curry, is supposedly mentally ill. The U.S. Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act since reconstruction.
1959- King and family travel to India to study Gahndi's techniques of non-violence as guests of the Prime Minister. Resigns from pastoring the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to concentrate on civil rights full time. He moved to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
1960- After the King family move to Atlanta Martin is made co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. The first lunch-counter sit-in to desegregate eating facilities is held. King is acquitted of the tax evasion charge by an all white jury in Montgomery. King is arrested in Atlanta after conducting a sit-in on charges of violating trust passing laws. King is held on a 2,000 dollar bond which is immediately paid and he is released.
1961- A group called the freedom riders intent on desegregating the interstate bus system heads out from Washington D.C. on a bus. In Anniston, Alabama the bus is raided by a mob and the freedom riders are beaten viciously. In Albany, Georgia King conducts a demonstration to desegregate public facilities. He is arrested while doing this on charges of paradeing without a permit.
1962- King is convicted for leading the march in Albany. After leaving jail, King joins the Birmingham protests. In albany again, King is arrested for obstructing the sidewalk and for disorderly conduct. The first African American attempt at attending the University of Mississippi is made and is a success thanks to the Supreme Court.
1963- During another demonstration King is arrested for a sit-in to protest segregation of eating facilities. While imprisoned King writes his letter from a Birmingham jail. use of police dogs and fire hoses upon marching protesters is ordered in Birmingham. The supreme court rules Birmingham's segregation laws are unconstitutional. King's book Strength to Love is published by Harper & Row. The march on Washington is the first large scale desegregation march is held. King deliverers his I have a dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
1964- King joins workers in demonstrations for the integration of public accommodations in St. Augustine, Florida. Because of this he is arrested and soon King's book Why We Can`t Wait is published by Harper & Row. King attends the signing of the Public Accommodations Bill. Riots occur in Harlem and a black man his killed, more take place in New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania. King receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
1965- President Johnson addresses the nation and Congress. He describes the voting rights bill he will submit to Congress in two days. Police on horseback beat demonstrators in Montgomery. Over 3,000 protest marchers leave Selma for a march to Montgomery. They are joined along the way by a total of 25,000 marchers. Upon reaching the Capitol they hear a speech by King. King visits Chicago and aids in the effort to improve the Chicago Projects. The 1965 Voting Rights Act is signed by President Johnson.
1966- King rents an apartment in the black ghetto of Chicago. King takes over a Chicago slum building and is sued by its owner. he Supreme Court rules any poll tax unconstitutional. King launches a drive to make Chicago an open city in regard to housing. King is stoned in Chicago as he leads a march through crowds of angry whites.
1967- King writes his final book Where Do We Go from Here? while visiting Jamaica. Alabama is ordered to desegregate all public schools by the federal government. Twenty-three people die, 725 are injured in riots in Newark, New Jersey. Dr. King announces the formation of a Poor People's Campaign, with the aim of representing the problems of poor blacks and whites.
1968- King leads a parade of 6,000 protesters in support of striking African American sanitation workers. King's last speech, entitled "I've Been to the Mountain Top," is delivered at the Memphis Masonic Temple. King is assasinated by a sniper at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. He dies moments later in St. Joseph's Hospital from a gunshot wound in the neck. James Earl Ray, the sniper, is later arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
The Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Timeline
Separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks. "Colored balconies" in movie theaters. Seats in the back of the bus. Soldiers called out to protect little children who were trying to go to school.
It may be difficult to believe these were examples of conditions in America less than 40 years ago. The struggle to change these conditions, and to win equal protection under the law for citizens of all races, formed the backdrop of Martin Luther King's short life. Note: This timeline is not meant to be comprehensive.
Brown vs. Board of Education: U.S. Supreme Court bans segregation in public schools. Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KansasIn the 1950s, school segregation was widely accepted throughout the nation. In fact, it was required by law in most southern states. In 1952, the Supreme Court heard a number of school-segregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. It decided unanimously in 1954 that segregation was unconstitutional, overthrowing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that had set the "separate but equal" precedent. 1955 Bus boycott launched in Montgomery, Ala., after an African-American woman, Rosa Parks, is arrested December 1 for refusing to give up her seat to a white person .
Rosa Parks, a 43 year old black seamstress, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The following night, fifty leaders of the Negro community met at Dexter Ave. Baptist Church to discuss the issue. Among them was the young minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The leaders organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which would deprive the bus company of 65% of its income, and cost Dr. King a $500 fine or 386 days in jail. He paid the fine, and eight months later, the Supreme Court decided, based on the school segregation cases, that bus segregation violated the constitution.
During the Montgomery bus boycott, blacks and others opposed to the segregation ordinance refused to ride city buses which had been their primary source of transportation. Many men and women who participated in the boycott did so at great personal sacrifice walking miles to work through hostile neighborhoods and in poor weather rather than riding the bus.
Parks' stand prompted the Montgomery bus boycott, which led to a nationwide boycott of public transportation by black Americans fighting for the right to sit anywhere they wanted.
"I was very determined to let it be known that we as a people, and I as an individual, had suffered that kind of humiliation far too long," Parks said in December 1995, kicking off the 40th anniversary of the boycott.
1956 December 21. After more than a year of boycotting the buses and a legal fight, the Montgomery buses desegregate. 1957
Desegregation at Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock Central High School was to begin the 1957 school year desegregated. On September 2, the night before the first day of school, Governor Faubus announced that he had ordered the Arkansas National Guard to monitor the school the next day. When a group of nine black students arrived at Central High on September 3, the were kept from entering by the National Guardsmen. On September 20, judge Davies granted an injunction against Governor Faubus and three days later the group of nine students returned to Central High School. Although the students were not physically injured, a mob of 1,000 townspeople prevented them from remaining at school. Finally, President Eisenhower ordered 1,000 paratroopers and 10,000 National Guardsmen to Little Rock, and on September 25, Central High School was desegregated.
Garfield High School becomes first Seattle high school with more than 50 percent nonwhite student body. 1960
After having been refused service at the lunch counter of a Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, Joseph McNeill, a Negro college student, returned the next day with three classmates to sit at the counter until they were served. They were not served. The four students returned to the lunch counter each day. When an article in the
New York Timesdrew attention to the students' protest, they were joined by more students, both black and white, and students across the nation were inspired to launch similar protests. 1961 Freedom rides begin from Washington, D.C: Groups of black and white people ride buses through the South to challenge segregation.
In 1961, bus loads of people waged a cross-country campaign to try to end the segregation of bus terminals. The nonviolent protest, however, was brutally received at many stops along the way.
King makes his only visit to Seattle. He visits numerous places, including two morning assemblies at Garfield High School. 1962 Blacks become the majority at Garfield High, 51 percent of the student population - a first for Seattle. The school district average is 5.3 percent. University of Mississippi RiotPresident Kennedy ordered Federal Marshals to escort James Meredith, the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, to campus. A riot broke out and before the National Guard could arrive to reinforce the marshals, two students were killed. 1963 Birmingham, Alabama was one of the most severly segregated cities in the 1960s. Black men and women held sit-ins at lunch counters where they were refused service, and "kneel-ins" on church steps where they were denied entrance. Hundreds of demonstrators were fined and imprisoned. In 1963, Dr. King, the Reverend Abernathy and the Reverend Shuttlesworth lead a protest march in Birmingham. The protestors were met with policemen and dogs. The three ministers were arrested and taken to Southside Jail.
Police arrest King and other ministers demonstrating in Birmingham, Ala., then turn fire hoses and police dogs on the marchers.
Medgar Evers, NAACP leader, is murdered June 12 as he enters his home in Jackson, Miss. About 1,300 people march from the Central Area to downtown Seattle, demanding greater job opportunities for blacks in department stores. The Bon Marche promises 30 new jobs for blacks. About 400 people rally at Seattle City Hall to protest delays in passing an open-housing law. In response, the city forms a 12-member Human Rights Commission but only two blacks are included, prompting a sit-in at City Hall and Seattle's first civil-rights arrests. 250,000 people attend the March on Washington, D.C. urging support for pending civil-rights legislation. The event was highlighted by King's "I have a dream" speech. The Seattle School District implements a voluntary racial transfer program, mainly aimed at busing black students to mostly white schools. Four girls killed Sept. 15 in bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. 1964 March on WashingtonDespite worries that few people would attend and that violence could erupt, A. Philip Randolpf and Bayard Rustin organized the historic event that would come to symbolize the civil rights movement. A reporter from the Timeswrote, "no one could ever remember an invading army quite as gentle as the two hundred thousand civil rights marchers who occupied Washington."
Seattle City Council agrees to put together an open-housing ordinance but insists on putting it on the ballot. Voters defeat it by a 2-to-1 ratio. It will be four more years before an open-housing ordinance becomes law.
Three civil-rights workers are murdered in Mississippi. July 2 - President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Out of 955 people employed by the Seattle Fire Department, just two were African American, and only one was Asian --- 0.2 and 0.1 percent of the force, respectively. By the end of 1993, the department was 12.2 percent African American and 5.6 percent Asian. 1965 Bloody SundayOutraged over the killing of a demonstrator by a state trooper in Marion, Alabama, the black community of Marion decided to hold a march. Martin Luther King agreed to lead the marchers on Sunday, March 7, from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, where they would appeal directly to governor Wallace to stop police brutality and call attention to their struggle for suffrage. When Governor Wallace refused to allow the march, Dr. King went to Washington to speak with President Johnson, delaying the demonstration until March 8. However, the people of Selma could not wait and they began the march on Sunday. When the marchers reached the city line, they found a posse of state troopers waiting for them. As the demonstrators crossed the bridge leading out of Selma, they were ordered to disperse, but the troopers did not wait for their warning to be headed. They immediately attacked the crowd of people who had bowed their heads in prayer. Using tear gas and batons, the troopers chased the demonstrators to a black housing project, where they continued to beat the demonstrators as well as residents of the project who had not been at the march.
Bloody Sunday received national attention, and numerous marches were organized in response. Martin Luther King lead a march to the Selma bridge that Tuesday, during which one protestor was killed. Finally, with President Johnson's permission, Dr. King led a successful march from Selma to Montgomery on March, 25. President Johnson gave a rousing speech to congress concerning civil rights as a result of Bloody Sunday, and passed the Voting Rights Act within that same year.
August 6. President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act, which King sought, authorized federal examiners to register qualified voters and suspended devices such as literacy tests that aimed to prevent African Americans from voting.
Malcolm X is murdered Feb. 21, 1965. Three men are convicted of his murder. August 11-16: Watts riots leave 34 dead in Los Angeles. 1967 Sam Smith elected Seattle's first black city councilman. 1968 Aaron Dixon becomes first leader of Black Panther Party branch in Seattle. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., unleashing violence in more than 100 cities. In response to King's death, Seattle residents hurled firebombs, broke windows, and pelted motorists with rocks. Ten thousand people also marched to Seattle Center for a rally in his memory. Rally at Garfield High in support of Dixon, Larry Gossett, and Carl Miller, sentenced to six months in the King County Jail for unlawful assembly in an earlier demonstration. Before the speakers were finished, firebombs and rocks were flying toward cars coming down 23rd Avenue. Sporadic riots in Seattle's Central Area during the summer. 1969 Edwin Pratt, executive director of the Seattle Urban League and a moderate and respected African American leader, is shot to death while standing in the doorway of his home. The murder has never been solved. 1977 Seattle School Board adopts a plan designed to eliminate racial imblance in schools by fall 1979. 1978 Seattle becomes the largest city in the United States to desegregate its schools without a court order; nearly one-quarter of the school district's students are bused as part of the "Seattle Plan." Two months later, voters pass an anti-busing initiative. It is later ruled unconstitutional. In a blow to efforts to diversify university enrollment, the U.S. Supreme Court outlaws racial quotas in a suit brought by Allan Bakke, a white man who had been turned down by the medical school at University of California, Davis. 1989
Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes the nation's first African American to be elected state governor. 1992 The first racially based riots in years erupt in Los Angeles and other cities after a jury acquits L.A. police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, an African American.
Early civil rights efforts
The history of the civil rights movement in the United States actually begins with the early efforts of the fledgling democracy.
1783 -- Massachusetts outlaws slavery within its borders.
1808 -- Importation of slaves banned; illegal slave trade continues.
1820 -- Eighty-six free blacks sail to Sierra Leone, a British colony in Africa -- first immigration of blacks from U.S. to Africa.
Missouri Compromise allows slavery in Missouri, but not elsewhere west of the Mississippi and north of Missouri's southern border; repealed in 1854
1831 -- Nat Turner leads slave rebellion in Virginia; 57 whites killed; U.S. troops kill 100 slaves; Turner caught, tried and hanged.
1833 -- Oberlin College, first U.S. college to adopt co-education, is first to refuse to ban black students.
1850 -- Compromise of 1850 admits California into the union without slavery, strengthens Fugitive Slave Laws, and ends slave trade in Washington, D.C.
1857 -- Dred Scott Supreme Court decision rules that slaves do not become free when taken into a free state, that Congress cannot bar slavery from a territory, and that blacks cannot become citizens.
1861 -- Confederate States of America formed; Civil War begins.
1863 -- President Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation freeing "all slaves in areas still in rebellion."
1865 -- Civil War ends.
13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, added to the Constitution.
1866 -- Ku Klux Klan formed in secrecy; disbands 1869-71; resurgence in 1915.
Congress takes over Reconstruction.
1867 -- Series of measures aimed at suffrage, other redresses for former slaves passed over President Andrew Johnson's vetoes.
1868 -- 14th Amendment conferring citizenship added to Constitution.
1870 -- 15th Amendment barring racial discrimination in voting added to Constitution.
1875 -- Congress passes civil rights act granted equal rights in public accommodations and jury duty.
1877 -- Henry O. Flipper becomes first black graduate of U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
1883 -- Supreme Court invalidates 1875 Civil Rights Act, saying that the federal government cannot bar discrimination by corporations or individuals.
1896 -- Supreme Court approves "separate but equal" segregation doctrine.
1906 -- Race riots in Atlanta; 21 dead, city under martial law.
1909 -- National Congress on the Negro convenes, leading to founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
1923 -- Oklahoma placed under martial law because of Ku Klux Klan activities.
1925 -- Ku Klux Klan marches on Washington.
1943 -- War contractors barred from racial discrimination.
Riots in Harlem, Detroit.
1948 -- President Truman issues executive order outlawing segregation in U.S. military.
1952 -- Racial, ethnic barriers to naturalization removed by Immigration and Naturalization Act.
The civil rights struggle in modern times
1954 -- U.S. Supreme Court declares school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling.
1955 -- Rosa Parks refuses to move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama, bus as required by city ordinance; boycott follows and bus segregation ordinance is declared unconstitutional.
Federal Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation on interstate trains and buses.
1956 -- Coalition of Southern congressmen calls for massive resistance to Supreme Court desegregation rulings.
1957 -- Arkansas Gov. Orval Rubus uses National Guard to block nine black students from attending a Little Rock High School; following a court order, President Eisenhower sends in federal troops to ensure compliance.
1960 -- Four black college students begin sit-ins at lunch counter of a Greensboro, North Carolina, restaurant where black patrons are not served.
Congress approves a watered-down voting rights act after a filibuster by Southern senators.
1961 -- Freedom Rides begin from Washington, D.C., into Southern states.
1962 -- President Kennedy sends federal troops to the University of Mississippi to quell riots so that James Meredith, the school's first black student, can attend.
The Supreme Court rules that segregation is unconstitutional in all transportation facilities.
The Department of Defense orders full integration of military reserve units, the National Guard excluded.
1963 -- Civil rights leader Medgar Evers is killed by a sniper's bullet.
Race riots prompt modified martial law in Cambridge, Maryland.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands at the March on Washington.
Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, leaves four young black girls dead.
1964 -- Congress passes Civil Rights Act declaring discrimination based on race illegal after 75-day long filibuster.
Three civil rights workers disappear in Mississippi after being stopped for speeding; found buried six weeks later.
Riots in Harlem, Philadelphia.
1965 -- March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to demand protection for voting rights; two civil rights workers slain earlier in the year in Selma.
Malcolm X assassinated.
Riot in Watts, Los Angeles.
New voting rights act signed.
1966 -- Edward Brooke, R-Massachusetts, elected first black U.S. senator in 85 years.
1967 -- Riots in Detroit, Newark, New Jersey.
Thurgood Marshall first black to be named to the Supreme Court.
Carl Stokes (Cleveland) and Richard G. Hatcher (Gary, Indiana) elected first black mayors of major U.S. cities.
1968 -- Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee; James Earl Ray later convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Poor People's March on Washington -- planned by King before his death -- goes on.
1973 -- Maynard Jackson (Atlanta), first black elected mayor of a major Southern U.S. city.
1975 --Voting Rights Act extended.
1978 -- Supreme Court rules that medical school admission programs that set aside positions based on race are unconstitutional (Bakke decision).
1979 -- Shoot-out in Greensboro, North Carolina, leaves five anti-Klan protesters dead; 12 Klansmen charged with murder.
1983 -- Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday established.
1988 -- Congress passes Civil Rights Restoration Act over President Reagan's veto.
1989 -- Army Gen. Colin Powell becomes first black to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
1989 -- L. Douglas Wilder (Virginia) becomes first black elected governor.
1990 -- President Bush vetoes a civil rights bill he says would impose quotas for employers; weaker bill passes muster in 1991.
1991 -- Civil rights museum opens at King assassination site in Memphis.
1994 -- Byron De La Beckwith convicted of 1963 Medgar Evers assassination.
1995 -- Supreme Court rules that federal programs that use race as a categorical classification must have "compelling government interest" to do so.
1996 -- Supreme Court rules consideration of race in creating congressional districts is unconstitutional.
Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement
(Western Michigan University)
photographs of Martin Luther King Jr.
About Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
- MLK exhibit at National Civil Rights Museum.
- Sound clips of Coretta Scott King reading "My Life with Martin Luther King Jr."
- Stanford University's Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project
- Voices of The Civil Rights Era. Includes King and Malcolm X.
- Robert Kennedy's speech on King's death
King associates say 'dream' still unfulfilled January 20, 1997
The Rev. Hosea Williams, who served as a march organizer for King, said he believes "black people are worse off in America than we were 30 years ago."
"We are further down the economic ladder," he said. "But I still have hope that King's dream will be revived and black people will free themselves. I think black people, by liberating themselves, will save America. But if we are going to save America, we have to first save ourselves."
Taking a step in that direction, King's oldest son is forming a group to fight for affirmative action in response to California efforts to do away with such programs. Martin Luther King III will head the new Atlanta-based Americans United for Affirmative Action.
The younger King, now 39, was 10 when his father was felled by a sniper's bullet at a Memphis motel. He heads Leadership 2000, an Atlanta organization that tries to develop sensitivity toward diversity among business and government leaders.
The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Overview
- I Have A Dream (RealAudio)Address to Civil Rights Marchers in Washington, DC
I have a Dream
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.
But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American 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."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
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 will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Letter From Birmingham City Jail -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily....We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed....For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of .... with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." .... "justice too long delayed is justice denied." ....I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law....We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws....(可悲的是﹐放眼歷史﹐特權組織很少會自願放棄特權的……我們從慘痛的經驗知道﹐壓迫者從來都不會自願的解放被他壓迫的人﹐自由是必須要被壓迫 的人主動爭取的……「等一下吧﹗」之聲已貫耳經年﹐現在還是響徹耳際……太耳熟了。「等一下吧﹗」幾乎就是「永遠等吧﹗」……「太遲來的公義根本就是沒有公義﹗」……我認為﹐若有人出於良知而違反某條不公義的法律﹐並願意受罰坐牢﹐借此喚醒民眾的良知﹐揭露惡法﹐其實是表現了對法律的最高敬意……我們永遠也不要忘記﹐當年希特勒在德國所作的一切都是「合法」的﹐而匈牙利自由鬥士在匈牙利所作的一切都是「非法」的﹐在希特勒統治下的德國給猶太人援手和慰藉也是「非法」的﹐儘管這樣﹐如果我那時身在德國﹐我肯定會給我的猶太手足援手和慰藉。要是我今天生活在共產國家﹐看到基督信仰受到踐踏﹐我會公開號召人們去違反這個國家這些敵視宗教的法律……)
My Dear Fellow Clergymen,
While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas...But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some 85 affiliate organizations all across the South...Several months ago our local affiliate here in Birmingham invited us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: 1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; 2) negotiation; 3) self-purification; and 4) direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham...Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of police brutality is known in every section of the country. Its unjust treatment of Negroes in the courts is a notorious reality. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any city in this nation. These are the hard, brutal, and unbelievable facts. On the basis of these conditions Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Then came the opportunity last September to talk with some of the leaders of the economic community. In these negotiating sessions certain promises were made by the merchants - such as the promise to remove the humiliating racial signs from the stores. On the basis of these promises Reverend Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to call a moratorium on any type of demonstrations. As the weeks and months unfolded we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. The signs remained. As in so many experiences in the past, we were confronted with blasted hopes, and the dark shadow of a deep disappointment settled upon us. So we had no alternative except that of preparing for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and national community. We were not unmindful of the difficulties involved. So we decided to go through the process of self-purification. We started having workshops on nonviolence and repeatedly asked ourselves the questions, "are you able to accept the blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail?"
You may well ask, "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, etc.? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, this is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.
My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without legal and nonviolent pressure. History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and give up their unjust posture; but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizing Thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.
I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see the tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking in agonizing pathos: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" men and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title of "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tip-toe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"-then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negroe's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White citizens' "Councilor" 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 can't agree with your methods of direst action"; who paternistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
You spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I started thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency made up of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, have been so completely drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation, and a few Negroes in the middle class who, because of a degree of academic and economic security, and at points they profit from segregation, have unconsciously become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred and comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up over the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. This movement is nourished by the contemporary frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination. It is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man in an incurable "devil."
The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations. He has to get them out. So let him march sometime; let him have his prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; understand why he must have sit-ins and freedom rides. If his repressed emotions do not come out in these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence. This is not a threat; it is a fact of history. So I have not said to my people, "Get rid of your discontent." But I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled through the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.
In spite of my shattered dreams of the past, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership in the community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, serve as the channel through which our just grievances could get to the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshippers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother. In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churches stand on the sideline and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, "Those are social issues with which the Gospel has no real concern," and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely other-worldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader, but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all of their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
M. L. King, Jr.
(full test) "I've Been to the Mountain Top" delivered on the eve before King's asassination.
(the last paragraht:)
"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't 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."