Memphis, Tennessee - April 3, 1968
Martin Luther King Jr. felt poorly the night he delivered this speech, the last one of his life. The venue was a mass meeting held in the Bishop Charles Mason Temple Church of God. Andrew Young, who was with him at the time, said King initially decided not to speak at all that night. King and his small entourage - including Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, and Benjamin Hooks - had led a march that day protesting low pay for black garbage collectors in Memphis. A rainstorm was gathering. King decided he was too sick to preach. He asked his best friend, Abernathy, to speak instead.
Once in the church, Abernathy felt King would have to speak to the crowd, so he phoned King and asked him to come down. Abernathy promised that he would still do the preaching; King would just have to say a few words. Abernathy spoke for more than half an hour, his words energizing the crowd. That called up the spirit in Reverend King, and he spoke that night without a single note in hand.
The next day, he was struck down by an assassin's bullet.
Excerpted from American Radio Works