Martin Luther King - 1964

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8:30am Eucharist
12:30pm Eucharist
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5:30pm Cathedral closes

Martin Luther King - 1964

Known for his leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, by 1964 Dr Martin Luther King Jr had global renown and in December of that year was flying form the USA to Norway to collect his Nobel Peace Prize.

On the invitation of St Paul's Canon John Collins, Dr King chose to break his journey and stop in London to preach at the Cathedral.

On the morning of 6 December 1964 he addressed a congregation of 4,000 people from the Cathedral pulpit and delivered his sermon "The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life".

In the sermon he described the first dimension as being a life of self interest "living as though no one else existed - victimized by the acid of egoism"; the second dimension he characterised as the outward concern with the welfare of others, "a love of humanity"; and the third dimension was man's upward reach towards God. The sermon exhorted the congregation to be the best that they could be.     

"If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill
Be a scrub in the valley - but be
The best little scrub on the side of the hill,
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway just be a trail
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or fail -
Be the best of whatever you are.
And when you do this, when you do this, you’ve mastered the length of life"

Following the service, Dr King then gave a press conference in the Cathedral's Chapter House where he answered questions on race relations in the UK.

He said: "I think it's a fact now, and everybody knows it, that there are growing racial problems in Britain as a result of the large number of coloured persons from the West Indies, from Pakistan and India who are coming into the Country. And it is my feeling that if Britain is not eternally vigilant and if England does not in a real sense, go all out to deal with this problem now; it can mushroom and become as serious as the problem we face in some other Nations." 

The Times reported Dr King's comments that segregated living creates festering sores of bitterness and deprivation which pollute the national health and his belief that equal opportunity for education, training and employment must be provided without regard to class or colour if the nation is to prosper in spirit and in truth. Migration from the fast declining British Empire in the 1950s and 1960s had led government officials to consider the management of how migration from 'coloured territories' would be received.

In the press conference Dr King warned that immigration laws based on colour would be totally out of keeping with the laws of God.   

Dr King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on 10 December, 1964. In presenting the award, the Nobel Committee Chairman stated that he was "the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence. He is the first to make the message of brotherly love a reality in the course of his struggle, and he has brought this message to all men, to all nations and races." 

Dr King accepted the award on behalf of the thousands of participants in the Civil Rights Movement, whom he described as a "mighty army of love". King regarded the prize as a "commission" that demanded that he move beyond "national allegiances" to speak out for peace.