Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

4 Great MLK Speeches

4 Great MLK Speeches

Every child who attends primary school in the United States (except maybe for John McCain) knows Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It is so drilled into our heads—nod if you still remember the full text from the third grade—that it is easy to forget that the MLK spoke about things other than sitting down at the dinner table. To commemorate the legendary civil rights activist and orator extraordinaire (since a national holiday that’s also observed in Toronto and Hiroshima isn’t enough), we’re linking to four great MLK speeches.

Memorization test on Tuesday.

1. “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

Interesting admission: King agrees with Dante “that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

2. “I’m Sorry Sir You Don’t Know Me”

Noble proclamation: “When you go to jail for a righteous cause, you can accept the inconveniences of jail with a kind of innocence of calm and an inner sense of peace.”

3. “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”

Apocalyptic timing: Delivered in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated.

4. “I Have a Dream”

Goosebumpish facts: A) Twelve hours before the speech, MLK was still unsure what he would say; B) The “I have a dream” segment that concludes the speech only happened because Mahalia Jackson, an African American gospel singer in the crowd, shouted, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.”

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