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Part 1
Part 2
Part 2


Audio Note: Audio from tape 1 cuts short by a few lines, but transcripts are complete. 

Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Mar. 18, 1964
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Martin Luther King Jr. Bio


Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was a civil rights activist and Baptist minister.  He was a key player in the the bus boycott in Montgomery  in 1955, and became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He helped organize the March on Washington in 1963, and delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech at that event. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for 1964. He participated in many other demonstrations and campaigns, such as the oft-delayed march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama; the Chicago Freedom Movement; and the Poor People's Campaign. In 1967 he began publicly to express opposition to the Vietnam War. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to support a strike by African American sanitation workers.

Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives.



King discusses the continuity between his and his father's work as civil rights activists, pointing to his formal training in nonviolence as a difference. He discusses the next phase of the civil rights movement and the goals of integration. Prompted by Warren, he discusses Gunnar Myrdal's view of how Reconstruction could have been better handled, including compensation to slaveowners for the loss of their slaves. He discusses the leadership of the civil rights movement. He talks about the need for school integration and the obstacles to it, and approves of busing to improve the education of both African Americans and whites. He sees a middle ground in the dilemma of maintaining black identity on one hand and being a part of American culture on the other. He discusses the slogan "Freedom Now," acknowledging the social realities that make change gradual but noting the resentment that the idea of "gradualism" arouses in African Americans, as well as the righteous indignation that is a vital part of the movement. He discusses his feelings about recent physical attacks on him in Harlem, the black nationalist movement that he considers to be behind at least one of the attacks, and criticism from Malcolm X. 


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