[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Update: Bumped, because after all, it is his holiday. See below for new posts.
Yes, this is my Martin Luther King day tribute and we could all cite from his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” but I figured I would pick something a little more obscure. This is a sermon (audio only) delivered where he confessed to a moment of weakness.
We have admitted Martin Luther King, Jr. into the pantheon of great Americans. And while he deserves that treatment, the risk we run is that we forget that he was not some plaster saint, but a man of flesh and blood, with a wife and children he loved and real human fears for himself and that family. So in this speech he tells us how important faith was to him in finding his courage. Indeed he asserts that Jesus spoke to him in a moment of crisis (he is even clearer on this point at other times in discussing this incident). I am always skeptical of any person who claims Jesus had spoken to them. But listening to that for the first time well over ten years ago, my thought was this: if Jesus had spoken to anyone in the last one hundred years or so… Dr. King would be on the short list, right?
But that risks again forgetting the flesh and blood human being that was there. Reverend King was in a very dangerous business—civil rights, particularly those of African Americans. It wasn’t really a surprise when he was shot. He knew that he stood a very real chance of being murdered and that he was exposing his family to the same danger. Let’s not forget that these animals were low enough to murder four little girls as they attended Sunday school. In this sense it is particularly appropriate for Bono to compare Dr. King to Jesus. Dr. King was not just a victim of that hate, but a martyr in the truest sense of the word. And it was his humanity, captured in this recording, that made it so profound.
Finally, let me once again provide a recommendation to you. If you have not enjoyed The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. I most fervently recommend the audio version (linked). Now, I don’t want you to think it is more than it is. It is read very well by LeVar Burton, with occasional audio clips from Dr. King himself. So most of your time you are not going to hear Dr. King’s voice. And it is not a true autobiography, so much as a group of autobiographical writings stitched together by editor Clayborne Carson. Still, I listened to that one summer when driving home from law school and it felt like Dr. King was sitting in the car with me, having a conversation. It was powerful.
But also it is a road hazard, given that you are almost guaranteed to be moved to tears at least once.
Update: This is an oldie but goodie from Basil, the “Robin” to Frank J. Fleming’s “Batman” over at IMAO from 2008. A young man tells us that “[t]oday is a national holiday here in the U.S. It’s a day where we celebrate the birthday of a great American, born and raised in the south, who lived and died for what he believed…” Things go awry from there, but besides being funny, Basil is making a really good point about how we memorialize Dr. King.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]