Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech almost didn’t happen

Black History Month 2023: ‘I may not get there with you’

What was happening in the days before Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination? Listen to accounts from some of the people who knew King best as they discuss his premonition. (Video editor: Ryon Horne, Producers: Pouya Dianat, Ryon Horne, Reporters: J

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech almost didn’t happen.

The civil rights leader had been running a fever, and he thought a severe storm in Memphis, Tenn., would keep people from coming to the Mason Temple to hear him.

So he planned to stay at the Lorraine Hotel and work on the Poor People’s Campaign, which was a priority.

But King went to the Temple, and on April 3, 1968, delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, which those close to him saw as a premonition of what was in store.

When he arrived in Memphis, King was told of threats being circulated against him. He said it didn’t matter.

"... But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.”

King told listeners they could achieve social change without violence. “We don’t have to argue with anybody,” King said. “We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles. We don’t need any Molotov cocktails.”

He continued: “And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

The next day, King was assassinated, shot as stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel while leaving for dinner.

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