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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on April 3, 1968: "Let Us Develop a Kind of Dangerous Unselfishness"

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In March of 1968, King came to Memphis to support striking African-American sanitation workers who were demanding better working conditions and facing massive resistance from white city officials. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 — days before he was to lead a march in Memphis. The night before he was killed, he gave his "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" speech. [includes rush transcript]


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting live from Memphis, Tennessee, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated April 4, 1968.

REV MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air and placed it on the dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying this was the good man, this was the great man.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens and people who love peace all over the world. And that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Robert Kennedy announcing the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1968, here in Memphis, Tennessee. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

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