As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today, Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Senior Rabbi, John Rosove, shared a post on his blog about a speech Dr. King delivered at Temple Israel on February 26, 1965. At the time, it was King’s only appearance in a Los Angeles pulpit.
Then-Senior Rabbi Max Nussbaum, who was active in civil rights causes, having barely escaped Nazi Germany himself after speaking out against the Nazis, invited Dr. King to speak. The timing of the speech was just a few weeks before the marches in Alabama, from Selma to Montgomery. It was also, according to Rabbi Rosove, only five days after the assassination of Malcolm X:
“Security was tight around the synagogue on that evening. Sharpshooters were placed on the apartment building across the street on Hollywood Boulevard. Dr. King delivered his sermon with two large body guards standing directly behind him.
The Sanctuary was filled to capacity with 1400+ congregants. Rabbi Max Nussbaum reminded the congregation that since it was Shabbat, applause following Dr. King’s remarks would be inappropriate. He said: “You will wish to applaud, and you will not do so!”
This existence of the recorded speech was discovered by the wider Los Angeles Jewish community and was noted in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal before Martin Luther King Day in 2007. National Public Radio learned of it from the LAJJ article and requested permission to air it nationally that year. It was aired both in 2007 and 2008.
The speech borrows from many other addresses Dr. King delivered over the course of his career and is an example of the eloquence, passion, and deep intellect that was Dr. King. He was 35 years old when he delivered it.”
A recording of King’s offers an opportunity to listen to his vision of hope for America and a reminder of why he continues to be such an important figure in our nation’s history.
Here is a link to the audio recording as well as a certified transcript. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlktempleisraelhollywood.htm