Saturday, January 15, 2011

In Honor of Dr. King: A Mighty Eloquence

Today, on the occasion of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have nothing to say. No original thoughts about this remarkable man are coming to mind. I have no eloquent comments about his life and legacy. I have no tears of my own to shed, for as the event in Tuscon last week have proven, individual tears have been lost in the torrent that today, 42 years after his death, is still being shed by the nation.

In truth, I don't feel like I should have anything to say. I shouldn't try to be eloquent or original. I should let Dr. King's eloquence speak for itself. As such, the most appropriate thing I can do is to share his own words. Here, I have included an excerpt from his sermon, "The Drum Major Instinct", delivered in February 1968. The entire sermon is worth reading - and listening to; it is available in many places on the Internet.

As you read this excerpt, thing of this man, his life, and his legacy. Think of how far this nation has come in 42 years ... and thing about how far we still have to go.

And every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think of it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself, "What is it that I would want said?" And I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.

1 comment:

Kansas Bob said...

"a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness"

That he certainly was!