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(1968) Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

The following speech, a sermon Dr. Martin Luther King gave at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, was the last public appearance before his assassination the next day.  King, in Memphis to support a strike by garbage workers, gives a poignant vision of the victorious future of the civil rights struggle, but without him there to witness its final triumph.  To many in the audience and beyond, King’s speech seemed to predict his own death

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy and his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It"s always good to have your closest friend and associate to say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world. I"m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow.

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God"s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn"t stop there.

I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. But I wouldn"t stop there.

I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn"t stop there.

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and

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