The MLK Speech You’ve Heard Before (But Not Really)

mlk assassination

I’m recognizing the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination by posting his final speech — better known to many as “I have Been to the Mountaintop” — since many of us only know two minutes of it.

Along with the media-saturated “I Have a Dream” speech by MLK, just playing the climax of “Mountaintop” hides the vision of MLK feared by the establishment: a man fed-up with America’s hypocrisy of evangelizing freedom while poor Americans can’t eat and poor people from other lands are obliterated by America’s very expensive bombs.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

What made King especially dangerous is that he had many followers who felt the same way.

I’ve written about this a long time ago — by 1967, King was clearly speaking a language of social justice highly familiar to the Black Lives Matter movement and Berners. [Plus, check this out.]

MLK’s planned Poor People’s Campaign sounds like a decades-earlier version of Occupy Wall Street.

King understood by then that integrating lunch counters would never lead to social and economic equality; and that a more radical change was needed.

King also knew well before fatally meeting a sniper’s bullet on April 4, 1968 that death was following his evolving message of equality.

King came to the aid of striking Black sanitation workers in Memphis Tennessee who were underpaid, barred from forming a union and were subjected to deadly working conditions. The first march led to a chaotic incident — King talked about that in a tone that will remind you of how the media covered those Ferguson demonstrations — but he returned to Memphis to continue this struggle.

This is the backdrop to KIng’s Mountaintop speech.

Embedded media is below. Listen, read, share and discuss with your friends …

2 thoughts on “The MLK Speech You’ve Heard Before (But Not Really)

  1. Got to admit i’d not heard all this Baye,it becomes obvious that they had to stop MLK and it seems obvious he knew this.It also leads me to that old chestnut that “the more things change…” its a sad world and apathy rules.

    1. Sure is sad, Steve. To tip it off, the King family sued the US government for its role in King’s death, won the case but with no widespread outrage after the verdict. Then again, it’s not like we should expect that story to be reported on prime time television …

      song currently stuck in my head: “givin’ up” – deborah bond

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