Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his leadership in the African American Civil Rights Movement in the middle of the last century.
His I Have A Dream speech is a classic and should be. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. is an incredibly powerful statement.
What isn’t so well remembered is that King also was an advocate for labor, or he said “the working man.”
In his I’ve Been To The Mountain speech at Mason Temple Church in 1968 after an assassination attempt when the surgeon told him he would have died if he sneezed, he said talking about the Parable of the Good Samaritan …the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” (Bolding mine.)
When I listen to some of his speeches I find myself enthralled not only by the subject, but by his eloquence. It’s interesting to hear some of his earlier talks and compare them with the later. Like all of us, he got better as he practiced.
His speeches well in writing too. To be sure, the cadence of King’s speech as I read. But it’s in those texts that a true understanding of what he believed and what he was advocating can be found.
I’d forgotten until today, but he also opposed the Vietnam war, saying among other things: A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. That’s from his book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?
The man could write as well as talk!
What listening and reading Martin Luther King Jr. does is help me stay true to what I believe. He reminds me to practice asking what will happen to the other? more often that asking what will happen to me?”
Most of us will never have the opportunity to influence as many people as King influenced and continues to influence, but as writers we do have a wider audience than most. We need to honor that in the best we we can.
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