MLK Jr. death
King was in Tennessee to help support a sanitation workers’ strike. At the age of 39, King was already an internationally known figure. Starting with the Montgomery boycott in 1955, King had led a series of nonviolent protests against discrimination.
When King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, at the time he was the youngest Peace Prize winner ever, at the age of 35.
His acceptance speech in Norway included the famous statement, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” King also donated his prize money of $54,123 to the civil rights movement.
On April 3, 1968, King had traveled to Memphis to support a movement seeking better compensation for black sanitation workers. He spoke at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple to a group of supporters–knowing there were threats made against his life.
He told the audience about how he survived a 1958 assassination attempt by a mentally deranged woman named Izola Ware Curry, who stabbed King in the chest at a New York book signing. King had read in a newspaper that if he had sneezed just before the attack, the location of the wound have been fatal.
“I want to say tonight that I, too, am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy, which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” he said.
The better-known part of King’s speech was its conclusion.
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