Martin Luther King (Updated)

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I looked for a video of Rev. King's last speech, given on the night (April 3, 1968) before he was murdered. You've seen it perhaps; it still moves me deeply every time I watch it.

The following clip includes the end of that speech. But it has another set of excerpts of Rev. King relating to his views on war. Many people forget today that he was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam war. And in these days when the words of another black pastor have shocked people, you might do well to recall similar words from Dr. King, spoken on more than one occasion. And trust me: reading it on the page is nothing compared to watching him deliver the words:

"...[D]on't let anyone make you think that God chose America as his divine Messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgement and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You are too arrogant! If you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power. And I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I am God."

UPDATE: The next night, Bobby Kennedy, who was campaigning in Indianapolis in advance of the Indiana primary, gave a speech. By all accounts, he gave it nearly extemporaneously, having composed it in the few minutes after he heard that King had been killed. This audio recording captured Kennedy's words that night in Indianapolis.

And here's some video of the speech:

"In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

"For those of you who are can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

"We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

"Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

"For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust...against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling.

"I had a member of my family killed...

"But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

"My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: 'In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

"So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King...but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke."

What he said that evening is carved on the walls of a fountain near his grave at Arlington National Cemetary.

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