I read Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech this morning in honor of his passing 50 years ago: April 4, 1968.
His last speech was delivered in Memphis, Tenn on April 3, 1968. I visited the Loraine motel several years ago with my family and visited the museum in honor of him. He had great influence on the America of today, the America where Barack Obama was elected President. I want to honor him and his life.
Reading his last speech was more powerful than I could have imagined.
His words in his final speech are powerful right now in light of all the challenges we face today.
And as I read these words, I thought about the teens who are protesting and marching today for change because of the large numbers of people who have been killed by gun violence, the children who have died while attending school.
And I have thought about the people who call the youth of today names and make comments about their marching and protesting, telling them to “go home” and “do something more productive”, implying that they are not worthy of the rights of all Americans.
Martin Luther King Jr. said these words after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He said them in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3, 1968 because of the sanitation workers strike due to poor pay and dangerous working conditions and the death of workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker who died in garbage compactors.
This great man spoke out in the places where great injustices were happening.
All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.
Watch this part of his speech, the end of it here:
If this great man were alive today…
I can only imagine the great things he would be doing if he were alive today.
He inspired many people and inspired great change in America.
Now is the time for more inspiration.
For great change is needed.
To all the young people of the United States of America,
I say this to you
March and protest peacefully
Words are more powerful than guns
Words are more powerful than violence
Words can change the world.