Martin Luther KingI have been gradually working my way through a CD collection of ‘speeches that changed the world’. There are a number of golden oldies: Neville Chamberlain (‘The Peace of Europe’); Winston Churchill (‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat’, ‘This was their finest hour’, ‘Never … was so much owed by so many to so few’ – all re-delivered in a recording studio); Franklin Delanoe Roosevelt (‘The only thing we have left to fear is fear itself’, ‘A date which will live in infamy’) , Jawarhlal Nehru, General Douglas MacArthur, Nelson Mandela… The title of the CD is a mite over-ambitious. The collection begins with Chamberlain and ends with George W. Bush, so effectively covers only the twentieth century, and then only what happened to have been recorded. Some of the choices are debateable. Mother Teresa, for example, may or may not have changed the world but her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech did not. There are some surprises. John F. Kennedy’s famous 1963 ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech, for example, was strangely laboured and, by modern standards, poorly delivered. Yet it definitely was a world-changer. Old ham Ronald Reagan’s ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall’ speech in the same city was brilliantly delivered and extraordinarily prophetic; just over two years later the wall was down. But when it comes to prophets, none in the collection can beat the natural oratorical skills of Martin Luther King Jr. The extraordinary poise and delivery and always inclusive rhetoric of his ‘I have a dream’ speech to no less than 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial would have been enough (and what a world changer that was), but this collection also includes his 3 April 1968 ‘I have been to the mountaintop’ speech in Memphis Tennessee. Towards the end of it he said ‘Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!’ One day later, King had fallen to an assassin’s bullet.