Forty years ago yesterday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. An unspeakably terrible loss for the United States, but his vision, wisdom, and influence live on today. King was remarkable for his ideas and vision but his ideas would never have had such an impact if he was not also an amazing and powerful public speaker. Indeed, he is surely one of the best speakers the United States has ever known. Just about everyone in the world is aware of King's "I Have a Dream" speech delivered in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. But you may not have ever heard the last speech King ever made. On April 3, 1968, Dr. King delivered an impassioned speech to striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. The next day he was murdered as he stood on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
Here below are just the last few moments of the last speech Dr. King ever made (here you can see the entire transcript.)
If you have the time, I urge you to listen to the entire speech. You can find part one here, and part two here. It starts slowly and builds and finally finishes big. Part two is especially moving. A very inspiring leader and speaker who knew the power of story and how to capture an audience and take them someplace, all the while painting pictures with his words in a way...well, in a way that we are still talking about forty years later.
Dr. King would be 79.