Subversive Historian – 04/03/09

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”

Back in the day on April 3rd, 1968 the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last speech entitled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” The emblematic civil rights leader was in Memphis, Tennessee at the time to support striking sanitation workers ahead of the planned Poor People’s March on Washington. As scholar Michael Eric Dyson has noted, King had felt tired and gloomy and almost had fellow civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy speak in his place that night. Abernathy, however, successfully encouraged King to come and address the crowd that had gathered to see him. The superb orator then went on to deliver a speech in which he affirmed his principles of non-violence and his happiness with being a part of the history of that moment in time. Coming to masterful crescendo, King’s words publicly jettisoned his fears of death when he ended saying, “I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

The very next day an assassin’s bullet silenced the civil rights leader as we as a people have been struggling to get to the promised land ever since.


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