On March 31st, 1968, merely four days before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the following brief speech. Today, Dr. King’s words still resonate deeply. Below is the full text of that speech.
Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome.
You know, I’ve joined hands so often with students and others behind jail bars singing it, We shall overcome.
Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided to sing it, We shall overcome. Oh, before this victory’s won, some will have to get thrown in jail some more, but we shall overcome.
Don’t worry about us. Before the victory’s won, some of us will lose jobs, but we shall overcome.
Before the victory’s won, even some will have to face physical death. But if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent psychological death, then nothing shall be more redemptive.
Before the victory’s won, some will be misunderstood and called bad names, dismissed as rabble rousers and agitators, but we shall overcome.
We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right, “No lie can live forever.”
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right: “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”
We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right: Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future and behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadows keeping watch above his own.
We shall overcome because the Bible is right, “You shall reap what you sow”
We shall overcome.
Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome.
And with this faith, we will go out and adjourn the counsels of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism and we will be able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. And this will be a great America! We will be the participants in making it so.
And so as I leave you this evening I say, Walk together children! Don’t you get weary!
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, March 31st, 1968
Happy Black History Month