Circumstances

The speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” by Dr. Martin Luther King was addressed on 3rd of April, 1968 to the audience gathered at the Mason temple in Memphis, during the Memphis sanitation strike.

The Memphis sanitation strike had started earlier in February and was caused by the fact that sanitation workers — mostly African Americans – had endured years of poor pay and dangerous working conditions.

The strike took place in the context of the larger Civil Rights Movement which had started in 1954 and which had the goal of ending segregation and discrimination against African Americans. By 1968, major progress had already been achieved at a legal level through the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In the speech, King mentions several actions of the Civil Rights Movement, which are meant to show how much African Americans have progressed in their struggle: “If I had sneezed, I would...

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