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I've Been to the Mountaintop

I've Been to the Mountaintop

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"I've Been to the Mountaintop" is the popular name of the last speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...



King spoke on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple
Mason Temple
Mason Temple, in Memphis, Tennessee, is the International Sanctuary and central headquarters of the Church of God in Christ, the largest African American Pentecostal group in the world....

 (Church of God in Christ
Church of God in Christ
The Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. With nearly five million members in the United States and 12,000 congregations, it is the largest Pentecostal church and the fifth largest Christian church in the U.S....

 Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

. The next day, King was assassinated
Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination
Martin Luther King, Jr., a prominent American leader of the African-American civil rights movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39...

.

The speech primarily concerns the Memphis Sanitation Strike
Memphis Sanitation Strike
The Memphis Sanitation Strike began on February 11, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Citing years of poor treatment, discrimination, dangerous working conditions, and the recent work-related deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker, some 1300 black sanitation workers walked off the job in protest...

. King calls for unity, economic actions, boycotts, and nonviolent protest, and challenges the United States to live up to its ideals. At the end of the speech, he discusses the possibility of an untimely death.

Excerpts from King's speech


Regarding the strike, King said:
Regarding the Civil Rights struggle, King said:
Regarding economic boycotts, he said:
Toward the end of the speech, King refers to threats against his life and uses language that seems to foreshadow his impending death:

Biblical references


The language is seen by some as a "prophetic
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

" analogy. Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 is the leader of the people of Israel, whom they follow because of the prospect of life within a Promised Land. Before they reach it however, Moses is informed by God that he will not allow him to enter into the land and that he will only see it with his eyes. Shortly after, Moses dies and is buried by God, and his successor, Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

, leads the people of Israel into the Promised Land.

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