East Tennesseans celebrate 50th anniversary of MLK’s ‘Mountaintop’ speech

Local News

Fifty years after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed crowds in Memphis, his words live on. 

The MLK Commemorative Commission and Knoxville Interdenominational Christian Ministerial Alliance sponsored event was aimed to do just that.

They brought King’s words to life through an original recording, but also reflected on how what he said still applies today. 

The anniversary marks 50 years since King gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. It was also the last full day of his life. 

The event featured the original recording. It also included performances by the Knoxville Opera Gospel Choir with songs featured from the Civil Rights Era. 

“He talked about issues of fairness of justice, of the kind of world we want to have. we still need those things,” said Rev. Gordon Gibson. 

Gibson says King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech is powerful, even today, because he didn’t just focus on the sanitation worker strike in Memphis, but on larger issues that face everyone. 

“What he projected was a person of size and consequence,” said Gibson. 

The Mountain Top Experience Program commemorated Dr. King’s last full day and included a final sermon from Rev. William Terry Ladd III, a Knoxville native who serves the First Baptist Church on East 8th Street in Chattanooga. 

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