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The Influence of One Man!

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther  King Jr. The holiday  was first commemorated in 1986. It is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to King’s January 15 birthday. George Washington is the only other American to have had his birthday observed as a national holiday.

He was born Michael King Jr., but his father changed both of their names after attending a conference in Germany. He wanted to commemorate German reformer Martin Luther.

King faced threats on his life because of his activism, going back more than a decade before his assassination. On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s Department Store. He was approached by a woman, who asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Izola Ware Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,”

She stabbed him with a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta.  King underwent many hours of  emergency surgery around his heart. Doctors later told him that just a sneeze could have and killed him.

In April 1968, King came to Memphis to support the strike of the city’s black garbage workers. During his speech on the night before his assassination, he told an audience at Mason Temple Church: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”

Through his non-violent activism in the civil rights movement, he played a pivotal role in successfully ending racial discrimination in state and federal laws. His actions were responsible for the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Martin Luther King Jr told us, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward”.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

On this day of recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I was reminded by Our Daily Bread of one of Dr King’s life challenges, from one of his sermons preached in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. quoted Jesus’ words from Mark 10 about servant-hood. “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. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. . . . You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Behind The King Speech

     A look back at Dr. Martin Luther King’s impact on life today, requires a look at one of the greatest speeches of all time. The “I have a dream” speech, is infamous for it’s message. I can’t even count how many times I have listened to it or watched it and it still makes the hair stand on my arms. I always say “what a speech!”
     The Washington Post did an article/reprint of  “Behind The Dream”, that was written by Clarence B. Jones.  Jones had been King’s advisor, personal attorney, part-time speech writer and confidante; and was part of the group that met King in D.C., to help him with ideas for his upcoming speech. It tells the story of how Dr. King arrived at that theme for his speech.

     I have attached the article for you to read. It really is fascinating in that this famous speech was not specifically scripted and written out. Dr. King had been so busy with events, that he gave it extemporaneously.  Those trying to give him ideas had tried to get him to use more Bible verses or quotes from Parables.  The idea of  “I had a dream” had been suggested off the cuff by gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, who had said to Dr. King, “Tell em about the dream, Martin, tell em about the dream.”

     In front of all those microphones, cameras and people, Dr. King did tell them about the dream. He then finished with those words from the heart that was his dream, that have remained a continuing goal for all:

     “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last”

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