5 Speeches from Dr. King: Training tapes for hope and courage

In anticipation of Martin Luther King, Jr Day I found that his words felt more powerful than any I could say about him or his work--so I decided to share those instead.  Long before the TED talk, Dr. King was sharing big powerful talks of ideas and inspiration.

I consider his speeches to be the antidote to fear and despair. They are training tapes for hope. Keep this blog in a file and pull up these speeches on the days when you think your challenge is too great. Tap into his source of vision and love. When the world around you or the morning news is just too much—start your day with one of these speeches instead. Aspire to see the bigger picture. Commit to seeing the best in people and humanity. Have the courage to live your dream.

The Speeches:

1. The full text and speech at the Holt St. Baptist Church. December 5, 1955 on the eve of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This was the first meeting of the MIA and he had only 20 minutes to prepare for this speech. There is both audio and a powerpoint of the text.


2. Love your Enemies Speech: Audio. This is a sermon given at the Dexter Baptist Church November 17, 1957. This is the speech where he said the famous quote, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. " This sermon was written while he was in jail for non-violent protest and delivered later.


Love your enemies speech: Full text


3. Full text of Letter from a Birmingham Jail 4/16/1963. This was a letter written in response to a “Call to Unity” by 8 white clergy members written in the newspaper denouncing King’s actions. He wrote this letter “Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly black trustee and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.”


4. Full televised speech “I have a dream” March on Washington, August 28 1963. This one needs no description. Watch it. And watch it again.


Full text of “I have a dream” speech


5. Speech given at UCLA 4/27/1965 55 minutes long (MLK begins around minute 7). In this speech Dr. King wrestles with the question, “Have we made any progress?” His patient discussion and his ability to both hold reality and a strong vision are still instructive.


And for more on this found speech and one other:


© Gretchen L. Schmelzer, PhD 2015