1964 October 14

Martin Luther King to Receive Nobel Peace Prize


On this day, it was announced that the Nobel Peace Prize would be presented to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King received the award and delivered his acceptance speech, “The Quest for Peace and Justice,” on December 11, 1964, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Just as King learned of this international honor, the FBI was escalating a vendetta against him. It had already decided on a secret and vicious campaign to “neutralize” King as a civil rights leader on December 23, 1963. On January 5, 1964, agents installed the first of a series of “bugs” (listening devices, not wiretaps) in one of King’s hotel rooms. Material from this and other bugs were included in an anonymous letter the FBI sent to King on November 21, 1964, containing recordings allegedly indicating King was involved in sexual escapades, and with a message seeming to tell King that his only option was to commit suicide.

King’s speech (excerpt): “Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

Read and/or Listen to King’s Nobel Prize Speech: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-lecture.html

Read Taylor Branch’s monumental three-volume biography of King: Parting the Waters (1988); Pillar of Fire (1998); At Canaan’s Edge (2006)

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