Excerpt: Address delivered in Acceptance of Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December 1964 in Oslo, Norway.
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen: I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when twenty-two million Negroes of the United States are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice.
...nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression.
Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.
Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.
Sooner or later, all the peoples of the world will have to discover a way to live together in PEACE, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.
If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.
The foundation of such a method is LOVE.
The torturous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama, to Oslo bears witness to this TRUTH, and this is a road over which millions of Negroes are traveling to find a new sense of dignity.
This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and HOPE.
I accept this award today with an abiding FAITH in America and an audacious FAITH in the future of mankind.
I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.
I refuse to accept the idea that the "is-ness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "ought-ness" that forever confronts him.
I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation.
I believe that unarmed TRUTH and unconditional LOVE will have the final word in reality.
This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still HOPE for a brighter tomorrow.
I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.
I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up.
I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed and nonviolent redemptive goodwill proclaimed the rule of the land.
And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.
I still believe that we shall overcome.
This FAITH can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.