King used this sentence in a number of speeches, including the commencement address for Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, in June, 1965. Here is the context in which it was used:
Yes, we shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We shall overcome because Carlyle is right: “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow.
Keeping watch above his own.
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right: “Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.” With this faith we will be ble to hew out of the mountain of despair, the stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood, and speed up the day when, in the words of the prophet Amos, “Justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”