Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice echoed throughout Washington Square Park Tuesday evening, delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray hosted the event, in which King’s image was projected on both sides of the arch, to honor the speech’s 50th anniversary.
It was delivered April 3, 1968, the day before Dr. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
“Fifty years ago today, he wrote a speech which defined his life’s journey,” de Blasio said in his introductory remarks.
King had traveled to Memphis to support African-American sanitation workers in their fight for higher wages.
The speech focuses on themes of economic justice and ends with a famous meditation on his own mortality.
King was in the middle of planning the Poor People’s March, a political campaign against economic disparity that ended with a march on Washington, D.C., later that year.
De Blasio arrived wearing a green New York City sanitation jacket.
“He believed the fight for economic justice was synonymous with the fight for civil rights,” the mayor said.
After some brief remarks de Blasio stepped aside to let McCray speak.
It was misting after a rainy day. “Let it rain,” McCray said. “Because we are the fire that no water can put out.”