When you look down the list of all Nobel Peace laureates you come across many of the most important names of the twentieth century: Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama (14th), Mother TeresaMartin Luther King, Jr. The notable exception is Mahatma Gandhi, who was nominated in five separate years and may well have won if not for his tragic assassination–Nobel prizes are not awarded posthumously unless the recipient dies after the prize is already announced (a very rare occurrence, but one that did indeed happen this year).

In the 110 years the Nobel prizes have been awarded, there have been twenty years in which the Peace prize was not given to anyone. The longest droughts were from 1914-1918 and 1939-1943, fittingly corresponding with World Wars I and II. (Note: Stalin was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts to end WWII; Hitler and Mussolini were both nominated once). It would seem perhaps overly ironic and inappropriate to award someone for peace efforts during such war torn eras, yet isn’t that when we need messages of peace the most? The acceptance speeches of Nobel Peace laureates are some of the most wonderful and inspiring words to read and listen to. Following is the audio from MLK Jr’s speech. Check out the rest at the Nobel prize website.