Roanoke may not have given me the day off, but in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I spent an hour reading and meditating on King’s “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech, delivered in Memphis, Tennessee hours before his assassination. Below are a few parts that really stuck with me.
I and millions more are grateful for his faithfulness and leadership at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. King has been dead for nearly half a century now, but his words are immortal. They are true, they are heartfelt, they are convincing. Most of all, they continue to spur us on to address and alleviate the many injustices that remain today.
It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.
Bull Connor didn’t know history. He knew a kind of physics that somehow didn’t relate to the transphysics that we knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of fire that no water could put out.
Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.
Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.
Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.
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!
I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!