POSTNOTE, Sunday Feb 5: Last night we watched the new documentary, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. It is extraordinary. Take the time.
PRENOTE: Thursday night was way below zero. But good news is coming next week, I hear. Feb. 1 I did a post entitled The First Day Of Spring. Take a look.
Thursday, I finished MLK’s Strength to Love, reading one chapter a day for 17 days. A previous post refers to the book, here. If you have even the tiniest inclination towards peace and justice issues, King’s book is powerful and pertinent and still available 58 years after it was first published. Check here for one source.
By habit, I don’t hi-lite. But I did put an “X” in the margin of noteworthy statements I saw. I counted my X’s in Strength to Love: there are 170 of them. This is a book of writings by a preacher composed between his mid-20s and mid-30s, at the beginning of his career.
At about the same time, MLK wrote a companion volume, which I have also had for years: “Why We Can’t Wait”, which includes the letter from the Birmingham Jail. Your call. You won’t regret taking the time to read and reflect on both volumes.
In our society – perhaps it is a more general human trait – we tend to look for heroes: those who stand out; can give a good speech; write a good book; do a good deed that goes VIRAL!; take the big risks…successfully. Of course, if the hero is very good, the end is not always good. Dr.King was not yet 40 when he was assassinated in 1968. Thus, not many aspire to be noteworthy “heroes”.
King, as a young man, obviously knew humanity as it was: imperfect. He was an idealist and a realist. He was early thrust into a leadership role, and he took it on. It fell to him to be the avatar, a later Gandhi. But the heroes of the Civil Rights movement were not only King, but the people around him; indeed, everyone who participated, anywhere.
The heroes we know personally don’t think of themselves as heroes. But they are, nonetheless.
I could go on at great length about most any part of the book, but will spare you that. But, at pp 143-44, I came across a hero in King’s eyes, in Montgomery AL during the bus boycott which began in 1955. He devotes the better part of a page in the book to a hero of his, Mother Pollard, about whom I shard two of King’s sentences, below:
(I entered Mother Pollard’s name in my search engine, and there is a brief wiki article about her if you wish.)
Mother Pollard represents to me the legions of unsung heroes who make this country, indeed any country or community, work, day after day, in matters small and large.
Mostly heroes don’t know that they are heroes, and they are mostly unsung.
We all have a heroes role to play. What is yours?
COMMENTS (more at end of post)
from Christine: That’s a powerful book from an inspired man who stays in our minds. I don’t know if our children and grand children etc. will still refer to him during their own lives….
response from Dick: I most noted that Dr. King was between 25 and 32 years old when he wrote the contents of this book. All of us who can read it now have been 25 to 32 during their lives, and most of those younger than 32 will have experienced those years. Certainly there are others in these cohorts who will inspire as Dr. King did.
from Fred: Dr. King’s speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial is one of greatest American orations ever.It should be placed in its historical place and time, with a brief introduction and replayed for present-day audiences every MLK day. I’m certain the book you are recommending is outstanding.
Thanks much, Dick.
Sent off to Valerie Strauss a few minutes ago what will probably be my last contribution to her “The Answer Sheet” forum. It’s too long.
I’ll post it when she runs it. It’s too long, but a sort of “wrap up” of what I began trying to do with an article in the Kappan in 1966 seemed necessary.
Thanks again, Dick
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Through the years I have read excerpts from this book. It is a good read.
And do we all need this! Thank you.
On every MLK,Jr. holiday the “I Have a Dream” speech must be played but always with the Riverside speech from April 4,1967