Still climbing towards the mountaintop: the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech in Memphis, TN. 56 years later, his words continue to inspire.

For more than a half century, the enduring vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been a galvanizing force for people striving to achieve racial justice.

Shot by Bill Stamets in 1994 at the Harold Washington Library’s exhibit “Let Us March On! Selected Civil Rights Photographs of Ernest C. Withers,” this video records a tour delivered by Withers himself. One of the most prominent African-American photographers of the Civil Rights era, Withers took thousands of photographs of pivotal moments in the civil rights movement, from the trial of Emmett Till’s murderers in 1955 to the aftermath of King’s assassination in 1968. Withers’ camera helped define the era, and his photographs of King are among the most enduring, iconic images we have of the man and the movement he helped lead.

At the end of the tour, the young girl performs a moving recitation of King’s last speech for Withers and a small audience that includes Mamie Till. It’s a powerful testament to the power that King’s words continue to hold and their tragic relevance decades later.



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