Our latest collection of Martin Luther King Jr. speeches to inspire you.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is best known for helping achieve civil equality for African Americans. One of the greatest orators of the twentieth century, Dr. King’s words led the Civil Rights Movement and helped change society.
Dr. King left behind a legacy of inspiring words in the many sermons and speeches he delivered during his push to achieve acceptance for all people, regardless of race or nationality.
We’ve all heard “I have a dream“, but here are some powerful, relevant and inspiring speeches that you probably haven’t read before.
Inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. Speeches
“Our God is Marching On” – Alabama, on March 25, 1965
This speech was delivered at a rally at the Alabama state capitol to mark the end of the Selma to Montgomery march. Martin Luther King, Jr. reassured a crowd of 25,000 people that the days of Southern white brutality were waning.
“I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” ….
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”
How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.” How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.” How long? Not long…”
“Loving Your Enemies” – Montgomery, Alabama, on November 17, 1957
“When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must not do it…..”
“Eulogy for the Martyred Children” – Birmingham, Alabama, on September 18, 1963
Dr. King delivered this eulogy at the funeral service of children who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, a turning point in the civil rights movement.
He emphasized that though the children were martyred, their death was not in vain. He urged their loved ones, and the community at large, to cast bitterness from their hearts and turn away from the desire for vengeance.
“....These children – unoffending, innocent, and beautiful – were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.
And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death.
They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism.
They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans…..”
“The Birth of a New Nation” – at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on April 7, 1957
Dr. King gave this sermon following his return from a trip to the new African nation of Ghana, formerly the British colony known as the Gold Coast.
He talked about the need for people to be free and self-governing and emphasized how freedom is never given but can only be achieved through constant agitation and struggle.
“…Don’t go out this morning with any illusions. Don’t go back into your homes and around Montgomery thinking that the Montgomery City Commission and that all of the forces in the leadership of the South will eventually work out this thing for Negroes, it’s going to work out; it’s going to roll in on the wheels of inevitability.
If we wait for it to work itself out, it will never be worked out. Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil. The bus protest is just the beginning…”
“A Time to Break the Silence” – New York’s Riverside Church, on April 4, 1967
One year before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave arguably his most controversial speech in which he criticized the U.S. policy in Vietnam and also called for the nation to “rapidly shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented” society.
“….And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Do you have any other favorite Martin Luther King Jr. speeches to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below. We would love to hear all about it.
May 5, 2019 6:40 AM EST