Today Holdcom celebrates one of the greatest orators of the 20th century: Martin Luther King, Jr. His voice was both booming and humble, his clear, rhythmic phrasing crafted through years as a minister. If not known as the cornerstone of the civil rights movement, he was honored as a public leader through his many letters and speeches.
His voice had a tone that was pleasing to the ear. It held a gravity that bespoke his passion, as if he were expressing the inexpressible with great ease. This is why people listened; his voice captured them, and the content sympathized.
We not only remember King, but the countless others who fought for equality, who made artistry out of leadership, who rejuvenated the human spirit. Several months ago, Jefferson Thomas of the Little Rock Nine, a group of black students who courageously volunteered to attend all-white Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, passed away at the age of 67. He and his peers “initiated the first major showdown between segregationists and the federal government” which involved the National Guard, the Air Force, and inspired thousands across the nation.
To hear live excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches, check out NPR: The speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.
To read lesser-known sections from his sermons, addresses, and philosophy, check here.
Here is a transcript of Letters from the Birmingham Jail.