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In Recognition of Martin Luther King Jr

January 16, 2014

From Martin Luther King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, given on 4 February 1968:

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.

You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.

You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.

imagesYou don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.

You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

Later he said:

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. (Yes) 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. (Yes)

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

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. (Amen)

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

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

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

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

Yes, if you want to cropped_back_coversay 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. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. (Yes) I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. (Amen) And that’s all I want to say.

While yesterday was the day of Martin Luther King’s birth, and Monday is a holiday in the US to honor his birth and his life, today is the day in my college classes that we’ll be discussing his “Letter from Birmingham” and his “I have a Dream” speech in class in the context of Seth Godin’s manifesto on education “Stop Stealing Dreams” and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. In preparing for this, I came across the sermon above which fits into other themes of our college composition class.King_Cover_1_edited-4

Hear the whole sermon by clicking on youtube above. Read the whole sermon here. Learn more about MLK via the King Center here.

Learn more about Jennifer Selig’s book on MLK here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 16, 2014 12:10 pm

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    No school on Monday January 20, 2014 at Ventura College! Celebrate MLK’s birthday and honor him by being of service!

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