Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, DC © Author Adventures

Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech That Rocked the World from Memphis

One of the most well-known speeches ever written was presented at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, by its writer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 3.1968 — the eve of his tragic assassination. The church building where the speech took place was built in 1941 and is located at 930 Mason Street. It is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

“The Mountaintop Speech” can be heard in full here: https://youtu.be/DKWCxKq0i1k.

Memphis is a mid-size city that is slightly greater in population than it was at the time of the speech.

Mason Temple Church of God in Christ

According to https://www.nps.gov/places/tennessee-mason-temple-memphis.htm: “King, Abernathy, Andrew Young and other black leaders had come to Memphis to support 1,300 striking sanitation workers who met regularly at the church. Their grievances included unfair working conditions (on rainy days, black workers had to return home without pay while paid white supervisors remained on the job, and black workers were given only one uniform and no place in which to change clothes), and poor pay (the highest-paid black worker could not hope to earn more than $70 a week). Following a bloody confrontation between marching strikers and police the week before, a court injunction had been issued banning further protests. King hoped their planned march would overturn the court injunction.”

More Places About the Writer

Read more about key places associated with Dr. King at Literary Montgomery and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Georgia. His books include:

  • Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958)
  • The Measure of a Man (1959)
  • Strength to Love (1963)
  • Why We Can’t Wait (1964)
  • Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)
  • The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)

Mason Temple is the first top on our Tennessee Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart