On November 17, 1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a message at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. King’s voice is strong and passionate in the recording and belies the fact that he was sick. His doctor had told him to stay at home in bed but King refused, insisting that he preach. The civil rights leader used Matthew 5 as the text for his message titled Love Your Enemies. It’s a message that he said he preached once a year adding new insights that corresponded with his experiences.
He said the passage is part of his basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. He read from verses 43 through 45,
“Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”