by Robert Wilkinson
Today would have been the 84th birthday of a true American hero and icon for the ages, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Regardless of his human flaws, he was one of the giants of all times. Today we remember that voice with videos of Martin doing his sacred work.
An electrifying orator, Martin was a powerful voice for human rights. He came from a higher plane and with consistent conscience spoke to the "better angels of our nature," to use a term given to us by the Great Emancipator. While he was far from perfect, who among us can say we've done better to inspire several generations to aspire to a better way?
This remarkable man was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded it in 1964 for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means. He came to his philosophy of non-violence through his mentor Howard Thurman, the noted civil rights leader, theologian, and educator who had studied under Mahatma Gandhi and encouraged another MLK mentor, Benjamin Mays, also to study with Gandhi.
Here are some of his more memorable speeches. Some are footage of him speaking, others his speech with still photos. They're all pretty remarkable.
From August 1958 in Schreveport, an early great speech! Here’s all 68 minutes of “The Speech at Galilee”
Here's what he's most famous for, the full version of Martin Luther King on film delivering his 1963 "I have a dream" speech.
Here's an interesting historical debate. We start with the original interview with Malcolm X attacking Martin Luther King's strategy of non-violent resistance.
From there we go to Martin Luther King in an interview Answering Malcolm X's criticisms. In it he makes a distinction between non-resistance and non-violent resistance. (The first minute is a strange intro, set to the theme music of "The Fugitive" television show.)
From the tumultuous year 1965, here are Martin Luther King, Jr. and "Our God Is Marching On!" given on 25 March 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama. This clip is set to "Tango for Evora" by Loreena Mckennitt.
Here's a much shorter clip of Martin Luther King in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965 doing How Long? Not Long!
In a 1965 speech King explained the reasons why he believed "we shall overcome" in similar terms he used in a 1957 speech to support his belief in "an other-loving God working forever through history for the establishment of His kingdom." Here's "We Shall Overcome."
I don't know when he gave this, but here's a clip I've titled "We don't have anything to be ashamed of"
Here’s a gem! Taped just after the March on Selma, here’s 25 minutes of pure gold!Martin Luther King, Jr. on War.
This one is a "must listen!" Here is an audio-only sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967, where Martin Luther King Jr. speaks out against the Vietnam War. In it he outlines why war devastates the poor as well as all of us, and why globalism, with its economic exploitation, militarism, and inherent racism, breeds poverty, injustice, and hate. Very powerful! (This awesome 23 minute speech was released by Black Forum records and won a Grammy in 1970 for the Best Spoken Word Recording.)
One of his more famous speeches was given on August 27, 1967 in Chicago. Here's the remarkable "Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool," also known as "A Knock at Midnight,"
From his final weeks, here are three more amazing pieces:
On February 4, 1968, in Atlanta, Georgia, he gave us "The Drum Major Instinct"
Then the speech that he gave in 1968 on behalf of the Memphis Sanitation workers striking for their rights that broke major ground: "I Am A Man." You can find more about this important moment in the civil rights movement here.
One of the more powerful short videos I've ever seen, from April 3, 1968, here's Martin Luther King's Prophetic Last speech - Remember.
If you want to listen to the entire speech, here's Martin Luther King's last speech. It's a more complete audio version of King's last speech w/still photos of the times. This is a counterpoint to the assertion that King's speeches were not the catalyst for real actions and change. These real accomplishments are enumerated by MLK himself and obviously would not have occurred '...if I had sneezed."
And now, the sad part. From Indianapolis, Indiana, here's the video of Robert Kennedy announces death of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here are 2 merged clips of the April 4, 1968, CBS broadcasts of Dan Rather breaking the news that MLK had been shot, along with the CBS evening news report with Walter Cronkite
From the PBS series “the American Experience,” here’s a one hour 21 minute 2011 documentary called “Roads to Memphis”
From 1970, an amazing 2 hour film called “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis”
In a final nod to one of the greatest Americans to grace our country, here's one of the most beautiful and poignant songs ever written. For your remembrance from 1968, a live tv performance of the original "Abraham, Martin, and John" done by the legendary Dion DiMucci.
"...Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free
Some day soon, and it's a-gonna be one day ...
1968 was a lousy year when some very decent people got shot for their troubles by the pawns of the gray men in the shadows. Unfortunately, it still goes on to this day. May all sentient Beings be delivered from violence, racism, hatred, fear, poverty and injustice as soon as possible.
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson