Themes

The Archive

Digital Archive brought to you
by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Spotlights

There are nearly a million documents associated with the life of Martin Luther King Jr. These pages will present a more dynamic view than is often seen of Dr. King’s life and times. The documents reveal the scholar, the father, and the pastor. Through these papers we see the United States of America at one of its most vulnerable, most honest and perhaps most human moments in history. There are letters bearing the official marks of royalty and the equally regal compositions of children. You will see speeches, telegrams, scribbled notes, patient admonitions and urgent pleas. This spotlight shows you a glimpse of the remarkable history within this collection.

Remarks by MLK in Acceptance of the Spingarn Medal

,

In his acceptance speech for the Spingarn Medal, Dr. King remarks about the need for continuing the fight for social justice and equality around the world. He acknowledges the work of NAACP along with protesters as they continue to be on the frontline in addressing the nation's social ills.

Friday, June 28, 1957

Draft of I Have a Dream

,

This version of Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech reveals important changes to ideas and phrases that Dr. King chose either to alter or omit completely the day he addressed the throng gathered before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dr. King's argument against the "normalcy" of bigotry remained a key message on the day he took the podium.

Wednesday, August 28, 1963

Statement by MLK Regarding His Five-Day Jail Sentence in Birmingham

,

Dr. King releases a statement regarding his return to Birmingham, Alabama to serve a five-day jail sentence. He states that he is happy to serve the sentence, but sad that the Supreme Court did not "uphold the rights of individual citizens." He also questions why the United States' resources are being used to fund the Vietnam War rather than to help the poor.

Monday, October 30, 1967

President Kennedy's Stand on Negotiation in Albany

In this statement made from the Albany, Georgia city jail where he was imprisoned, Dr. King expresses appreciation for President Kennedy's support of negotiation between Albany's City Commission and civil rights leaders.

I HAVE A DREAM

Text of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D. C.

I've Been to the Mountaintop

,

Dr. King gave this address at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee the night before he was assassinated. He called for nonviolent protest and a boycott of Memphis area businesses in support of the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike. Conveying a sense of foreboding, he not only recounted a near-death experience when he was stabbed near the heart, but also spoke of the possibility of his own demise at the hands of those who opposed him.

Wednesday, April 3, 1968

I Have A Dream

In the most famous of his speeches, given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr. King drew on themes from previous sermons and speeches, including an address he called The American Dream. Citing Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, King calls upon the nation to fulfill its promise of freedom and justice for all of its citizens. Although he began by reading from a manuscript, he later abandoned it and spoke directly to the crowd of more than 200,000.

MLK Speech at NAACP Sponsored Rally for Civil Rights

,

Dr. King gives a speech in which he addresses a myriad of issues on the subject of civil rights.

Sunday, July 10, 1960

I've Been To The Mountaintop

,

"I've Been to the Mountaintop" is the last speech Dr. King delivered. A day after making this address at the Masonic Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, he was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room. Dr. King spoke of faith, nonviolent protest and his support of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. He urged both a march and a boycott against Memphis area businesses. Dr. King ended his speech by musing about his previous brush with death and other threats against him.

Wednesday, April 3, 1968

Tonight Show Appearance Press Release

,

The SCLC announces that Dr. King will appear on the Tonight Show with Harry Belafonte filling in for Johnny Carson as host. Comedian Nipsey Russell and actor Paul Newman, both active in the civil rights movement, will also be guests. Dr. King looks forward to this opportunity to speak about the upcoming Poor People?s Campaign.

Wednesday, January 31, 1968

A Look To The Future

,

For the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Highlander Folk School, Dr. King delivers the speech "A Look To The Future." He uses a timeline to explain the adversities African Americans endured to gain recognition as American citizens. He also points out the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Councils to make African Americans second class citizens. Lastly, Dr. King points out that America should be more maladjusted in order to avoid failing to cope with the demands of the normal social environment.

Monday, September 2, 1957

Epitaph for a First Lady: Eleanor Roosevelt

Upon the death of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. King wrote this epitaph, calling her "a symbol of world citizenship." In addition, Dr. King commends Mrs. Roosevelt for her commitment to humanity.

Birmingham Desegregation Settlement Agreement

,

Dr. King reviews the settlement made between the City of Birmingham and civil rights protesters. This agreement includes the integration of lunch counters, sitting rooms, restrooms, and water fountains within ninety days.

Friday, May 10, 1963

MLK - Justice Without Violence

,

Dr. King gave this 1957 address to the Institute of Adult Education at Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, April 3, 1957

The Modern Negro Activist

Dr. King profiles the emergent young Negro civil rights activist who is college-educated, creative, brave and committed to the discipline of non-violence. He attributes the activist's diligence to a keen awareness that they inhabit a world on the cusp of positive social change and that they will have the privilege to direct that change. They are no longer to be an imitator of his white counterpart, but rather an initiator and leader in this new age.

A Statement to the South and Nation

This seemingly unexceptional document signifies the birth of the SCLC. Dr. King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. C. K. Steele assembled a consortium of leaders in Atlanta following the end of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Southern Leaders Conference on Transportation and Non-Violent Integration issued this statement that addresses the intimidation, discrimination and economic disparity Negroes face in the South. The statement appeals to the federal government to intervene against assaults that block basic civil rights.

Who They are and Why They Struck

This article stresses the unfair treatment of twenty-two Claussen Bakery workers. This article also addresses why the workers went on strike.

Senator Edward Kennedy's Address to SCLC

,

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) addresses the 1966 SCLC Annual Convention, stating that the sit-ins, freedom rides and Montgomery bus boycott created a movement that brought about the most important change of the last 20 years. He says that while the caste system in politics is over, the life of the average Negro hasn’t changed much. Society is becoming divided rich and poor, black and white, and a massive commitment of national resources must be made to upgrade Negro life in America.

Monday, August 8, 1966

Text of Speech Delivered at Lincoln Memorial

,

This speech, given by Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C, brings attention to the current state of oppression of Negro men and women in 1963.

Wednesday, August 28, 1963

The Christian Way of Life in Human Relations

,

Dr. King makes a speech to the National Council of Churches regarding the issue of American race relations. After school integration ... has noticed a radical change in the attitudes of African-Americans, ultimately giving birth to this mental and figurative notion of the "new Negro". He solicits the assistance and leadership of the nation's churches to take a firm stand against the rampant inequalities afflicting blacks are facing in America.

Wednesday, December 4, 1957

Speech to the Synagogue Council of America

,

Dr. King receives the Judaism and World Peace Award from the Synagogue Council of America and uses the occasion to speak about the Civil Rights Movement and international peace. He laments the vehement criticism of dissent and discussion of the Vietnam War and enumerates reasons why the Hebrew prophets are so needed today.

Sunday, December 5, 1965

Address by MLK to the Hungry Club

,

Dr. King addresses the members of The Hungry Club on the dilemma of "Negroes" obtaining complete equality. He refers to several passages from his "I Have a Dream" speech.

Wednesday, December 15, 1965

MLK Remarks on Negro Press Week

,

In this transcribed radio address, Dr. King describes how future generations will remember the 20th century as a time where righteous people fought for social, economic, and political freedom. Dr. King also states that the African-American fight for true citizenship is not only a part of American heritage, but also the story of people everywhere who struggle for dignity and freedom. Dr. King made this radio address for Negro Press week a the request of Louisville Defender Editor and National Newspaper Publishers Association board member Frank Stanley.

Monday, February 10, 1958

Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution

,

Dr. King delivers the commencement address at Oberlin College in Ohio on June 14, 1965. Nothing is more tragic, he says, than sleeping through a significant period of social change by failing to adopt the new mental attitudes that the new situation demands. He suggests that to remain awake through a great revolution one must embrace a global perspective and work for peace, racial justice, economic justice and brotherhood throughout the world.

Sunday, August 1, 1965

America's Chief Moral Dilemma

,

Dr. King's address to the Hungry Club highlights an array of issues that relate to America's "Moral Dilemma." Dr. King explains the three major evil dilemmas that face the nation: war, poverty, and racism.

Wednesday, May 10, 1967

MLK Public Statement on the Poor People's Campaign

,

Dr. King announces several initiatives of the SCLC. He explains that due to severe displays of discrimination the SCLC and other organizations will continue the non-violent movement with a demonstration in Washington, D.C. Dr. King further paints the picture of inequality among the races by providing several illustrations of discrimination.

Monday, December 4, 1967

The Other America

,

Dr. King delivered this speech, "The Other America," for the Local 1199 Salute to Freedom program. The speech emphasized the need to address poverty, the Vietnam War, and race relations in America.

Sunday, March 10, 1968

Remarks by MLK at the Freedom House Annual Dinner

,

Dr. King expresses his appreciation for being honored by Freedom House. He also pays tribute to the life and work of John F. Kennedy while encourging others to honor his memory through their dedication to civil rights.

Tuesday, November 26, 1963

Speeches by the Leaders

In this booklet, the NAACP compiled famous speeches from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Included are speeches from A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, James Farmer, Rev. Eugene Carson Blake, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Whitney M. Young, Matthew Ahmann, John Lewis, Walter Reuther, and Dr. King. The booklet concludes with a pledge and a picture of the throng of supporters that attended the event. test

Address by Jackie Robinson at SCLC Freedom Dinner

,

Guest speaker Jackie Robinson discusses his personal struggles with adopting the philosophy of nonviolence, race relations and the far-reaching efforts of the SCLC.

Tuesday, September 25, 1962

Pages