I listened to Democracy Now tonight while driving home in the dark. Snow was falling, cars moved slowly on the highway, and Dr. King’s last speech was coming back through time, over the airwaves.
When a person becomes a part of history, they can be put neatly into a box, labeled, filed away. I think Democracy Now did something incredibly beautiful tonight. They put Dr. Martin Luther King’s voice back into the present, in the news hour. The power of his voice lives on, his wisdom and courage and strength can still move us, change us, push us to a deeper humanity.
Just in case you missed it, I’m sure you can find this last speech of Martin Luther King’s on the net. It’s his "I have been to the Mountaintop" speech. It was delivered in Memphis, the day before he was assasinated. If you can, listen to it. It’s especially moving tonight, with Barack Obama taking the oath of office tomorrow. Here is the last paragraph of the last speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ever gave:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And 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.
If ever there was a point in America’shistory when so many of us felt the promise of this country, is it not now? I find myself overwhelmed with hope and prayer, it floods out of my heart, and I wrap this man who is to be our president in protection. I know he is just a man, but what he has inspired in myself and in so many others is not just anything, it is indeed hope for that promised land, a willingness to believe that it is indeed possilbe. Maybe this is some of what Martin Luther King saw from the mountaintop, this promise of freedom, this light of justice, burning in the hearts of Americans again.