“We Shall Overcome” – by Martin Luther King, Jr.

On 31st March1968, just four days before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., inspired by a previous sermon when he had recited parts of the hymn “We shall overcome” to the interfaith congregation at Temple Israel in Hollywood, California. The resonant line of the folk song, which had become the soundtrack of the struggle for African-Americans, and all downtrodden people, to regain their civil rights, had been repeated several times in that sermon to express not only a hopeful prediction of triumph, but the certainty that, in the end, social justice would be inevitable: We shall overcome because the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

We shall overcome. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome.
You know, I’ve joined hands so often with students and others behind jail bars singing it, we shall overcome.
Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided to sing it, we shall overcome.
Oh, before this victory’s won, some will have to get thrown in jail some more, but we shall overcome.
Don’t worry about us. Before the victory’s won, some of us will lose jobs, but we shall overcome.
Before the victory’s won, even some will have to face physical death. But if physical
death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent
psychological death, then nothing shall be more redemptive. We shall overcome
Before the victory’s won, some will be misunderstood and called bad names, dismissed as rabble rousers and agitators, but we shall overcome.
And I tell you why we shall overcome. Because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right, “No lie can live forever.”
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right: “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”
We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
wrong forever on the throne,
yet that scaffold sways the future
and behind the dim unknown
standeth God within the shadows
keeping watch above his own.
We shall overcome because the Bible is right, “You shall reap what you sow”
We shall overcome. Deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome.
And with this faith we will go out and adjourn the counsels of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism and we will be able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. And this will be a great America! We will be the participants in making it so.
And so, as I leave you this evening I say, Walk together children! Don’t you get weary!”

🔆 🔆 🔆 🔆 🔆

Thomas Carlyle (1795 –1881) was a Scottish historian and essayist (quote from “The French Revolution: A History”)

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was an American poet and newspaper editor who helped introduce European romanticism into American poetry. As an editor, he championed liberal causes. And was strongly anti-slavery (quote from “The Battlefield”)

James Russell Lowell 1819 –1891) was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. (quote from “The Present Crisis”)

🔆 🔆 🔆 🔆 🔆

Noi trionferemo. Nel profondo del mio cuore, io ci credo, noi trionferemo
Sapete, ho preso così spesso per mano con studenti e altri dietro le sbarre della prigione cantando: noi trionferemo.
A volte avevamo le lacrime agli occhi quando ci siamo uniti per cantarla, tuttavia abbiamo deciso di cantarla: noi trionferemo.
Oh, prima che questa vittoria sia vinta, alcuni dovranno essere ancora gettati in prigione, ma noi trionferemo.
Non preoccupatevi per noi. Prima della vittoria, alcuni di noi perderanno il lavoro, ma noi trionferemo.
Prima della vittoria, alcuni dovranno persino affrontare la morte fisica. Ma se la morte fisica
è il prezzo da pagare per liberare i propri figli da un permanente morte psicologica, nulla sarà più salvifico. Noi trionferemo.
Prima che la vittoria sia vinta, alcuni saranno fraintesi e insultati, liquidati come sobillatori e agitatori, ma noi trionferemo.
E vi dico perché trionferemo. Perché l’arco dell’universo morale è lungo ma si piega verso la giustizia.
Trionferemo perché Carlyle ha ragione: “Nessuna bugia può vivere per sempre”.
Trionferemo perché William Cullen Bryant ha ragione: “La verità schiacciata sulla terra risorgerà”.
Trionferemo perché James Russell Lowell ha ragione:
La verità per sempre sul patibolo,
il male per sempre sul trono,
eppure quel patibolo influenza il futuro
e dietro l’oscuro ignoto
sta Dio nell’ombra
vegliando sopra i suoi.
Trionferemo perché la Bibbia ha ragione: “Raccoglierai ciò che semini”
Trionferemo. Nel profondo del mio cuore, io ci credo, noi trionferemo.
E con questa fede usciremo per rinviare i consigli della disperazione e portare nuova luce nelle camere oscure del pessimismo e saremo in grado di elevarci dalla fatica della disperazione alla forza della speranza. E questa sarà una grande America! E noi parteciperemo a crearla.
E così mentre vi lascio questa sera dico, Camminate insieme figli! Non vi stancate! “

19 thoughts on ““We Shall Overcome” – by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s