Image by Matt Orfalea

If MLK Sneezed…

Matt Orfalea
4 min readJan 14, 2018

The Most Shocking MLK Speech You’ve Never Heard

The night before his assassination, MLK delivered his most suspenseful, surprising, and inspiring speech — and it’s not “I Have a Dream”. He tells the mostly unknown story of his near death experience — an attempt on his life, several years earlier.

Excerpts from MLK’s last speech, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. A demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?”…and I said, “Yes.”…the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. That blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, you drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. After my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out…kind letters came in. One of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter. It came from a little girl. It said simply, “Dear Dr. King, while it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”

Image by Matt orfalea

And I want to say tonight — I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in interstate travel.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.

If I had sneezed — If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.

If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.

I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.

Like anybody, I would like to live. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man!

My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

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