Draft Speech for Atlanta Nobel Peace Prize Reception



Dr. King drafts a speech that he will make in Atlanta for the reception honoring his Nobel Peace Prize winning. In the speech he offers his gratitude to friends and family who supported him in his efforts. Dr. King also briefly discusses the issue of racial injustice and the continued fight for equality.

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Draft Speech for Atlanta Nobel Peace Prize Reception
Transcripts & Translations


Mayor Allen, Dr. Mays, Rabbi Rothchild, Archbishop Halliman, Mr.Mc Gill, distinguished [dais?] guests, my fellow citizens of the great city of Atlanta.[ Crossed out text: I] I cannot begin to express to you my deep gratitude for this heartwarming evening. Your kind expressions of support brings deep joy to my heart and profound encouragement to my humbled efforts. Occasionally in life [there?] are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment I am presently experiencing. I can assure you that this marvelous hometown welcome and honor will remain dear to me as long as the cards of memory shall lengthen. I am greatful [grateful] to you for this recognition that you are giving me for being the 1964 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. [crossed out text: I should I’m] I am sure that you can understand what I men when I say that the Peace Prize was not really a tribute to me personally; it was rather a tribute to all of the [Page 2] persons of goodwill in our nation, Negro and white, who have worked so courageously for a reign of justice and a rule of love. It was an honor to those faceless, anonymous relentless individuals who have moved so courageously against the ramparts of racial injustice. I recall that some years ago, I was standing in line at the O’Hare airport in Chicago waiting to board a huge jet. In a matter of moments, the night plane was to take off for the Los Angeles. The ticket agent announced that there would be a slight delay in departure. There was some mechanical difficulty which would be repaired within a brief time. Soon I saw a half dozen men approaching the plane. They were[ crossed out text: dressd] dressed in dirty greasy overalls. They assembled around the plane and began to work. Someone told me that this was the grounds crew. Half an hour later, our jet taxied down the runway. Its wheels left the ground and we began that awesome climb up into the heavens. We soared up among the clouds to an unbelievable height and, like some gigantic bird, that airplane winged [Page 3] Its way through space. Hours later, we were settling down smoothly in an airport of that beautiful city of Los Angeles. All during that flight, I am sure that there were some on the plane who were grateful for the competent pilot and co-pilot. I am sure that others were conscious of the charming and gracious stewardesses whose names were imprinted neatly in the cabin. But, in my mind, first and foremost, was the memory of the ground crew. There are many wonderful pilots today, charting the sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth course of human progress. And yet, if it were not for the ground crew, the struggle for human dignity and social justice would not be in orbit. Most of these people will never make [underlined: Who’s who] and a banquet will never be given in their honor. But when years have rolled past and[ crossed out text: MS Illegible.] when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live – men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization – because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness sake. [Page 4] On an occasion like this one inevitably thinks of those friends, relatives and companions who have been closest to kin. Somehow I live eternally in the red. I am indebted to so many people. I am indebted to my abiding friend Ralph Abernathy and my dedicated staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who have worked with me so untiringly to make the American Dream a reality. I owe a special debt to my mother and father whose deep commitment to the Christian Faith and unswerving devotion to its timeless principles have given me an inspiring example of the Strength to love. Most of all I am indebted to my beloved wife and co- worker Coretta, without whose love, sacrifice, and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them most and a well ordered home where Christian love is a reality. This evening I would like to briefly discuss with you the struggle for racial justice. Victor Hugo once said that there is nothing more powerful in all the world than an idea whose time has come. Anyone sensitive to the present moods, morals and trends in our nation, must know that the time for racial justice has come. The issue [Page 5] is no longer [underlined: whether] segregation and discrimination will be eliminated but [Underlined: how] they will pass from the American scene. The deep rambling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom. These developments should not surprise any student of history. Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself. The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, “ Let my people go.” This is a kind of opening chapter in a continuing story. The present struggle in our country is a later chapter in the same unfolding story. Something within has reminded the Negro of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously and unconsciously he has been caught up by the [ underlined: Zeitgeist] and is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. Fortunately, some significant strides have been made in the struggle to end the long night of [Page 6] racial injustice. We have witnessed the gradual demise of the system of racial segregation. The supreme court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools gave a legal and constitutional deathblow to the whole doctrine of separate but equal. This decision came as [ crossed out text: as] a great beacon light of hope to millions of disinherit
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