I caught part of a documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr. on T.V. yesterday that profiled his last few days alive. He was trying to organize a Poor People's march on Washington, D.C. and was going around to different cities to recruit people. After a march that turned violent in Memphis, he became depressed. A few weeks later, he went back to a still tense Memphis to visit with the sanitation workers who were entering their 2nd month on strike. Due to exhaustion, King asked Ralph Abernathy to address a nighttime rally on April 3 before his scheduled appearances on the fateful April 4. But, after Ralph spoke, he called King to say the people wanted to hear King speak.
So, King dragged himself from The Lorraine Motel to The Mason Temple, and spoke for a little over 8 minutes. Below is the last 90 seconds of that speech that NEVER fails to make the hairs on the back on my neck stand up. It's a combination of his unique speaking voice, the foreshadowing of his words, the powerful imagery of his words and the exhausted passion you can see in his eyes. You can see that he was overcome with his own messages -- lost in the fervor -- and then he collapsed with the help of his friends into a chair.
Michelle Obama's speech at UCLA, though not nearly as moving as King's Mountaintop speech, is so closely knitted to King's dream.