“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” is the name often given to the last speech by civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. King spoke on April 3, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. On the next day, King was assassinated.
King calls for unity and nonviolent protest with resistance to court injunctions in reference to a strike by city sanitation workers, while challenging the United States to live up to its ideals. At the end of the speech, he appears to mention the likelihood of his own death.
Martin Luther King, Jr.:
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 some of these illegal injunctions.
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 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 dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over.
And I’ve seen the Promised Land.
I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!