Americans across the country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday by committing to hours of community service in the name of the civil rights leader.
Many are too young to have witnessed King, particularly when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1964. He was, at just 35, the youngest to receive the honor. In keeping with his purpose, he donated the $54,123 in prize money to furthering the civil rights movement.
King accepted the award in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, 1964. In the speech, now 52 years old, King spoke about the urgent need for support and the long road ahead to end racial injustice in the United States.
Here are a few excerpts from the moving speech:
“I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice.”
In the speech, King noted that he first questioned why the civil rights movement received the award, when it had “not yet won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.”
He concluded the award was granted in recognition, “that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time — the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.”
“Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.”
King said he believed that “unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits… I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land….I still believe that ee shall overcome!”
“I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners — all those to whom beauty is truth and truth beauty — and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.”
SOURCE: USA TODAY