To serve: part of the celebration

martin luther king jr

In celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this tribute is offered:

. . . man behind the name

the name

the good brother
hammered out his
“Here I stand,
I can do none other. . .”
and forged “A mighty fortress”

the name

the same name
thunders through four centuries

anchored with a surname
a paradox,
oxymoronic nature of a servant/King

the name

weight of that name
burden of the same name
obligation to be true
to one’s namesake
as Ellison’s hidden name and complex fate
resounds from age to age the same–
the battle cry to defy the status quo

more than the name
is the memory of the man
behind the name

reflections on the man
behind the name
mirror commonalities
threads intertwine in black and gold
the life of this preacher,
teacher of the Word,
Walker’s prophet for a new day,
husband, father, mentor and more,
fellow-laborer in the Lord,
fellow bondslave and brother
heeding the higher calling

      first of all,
      servants of all,
      we shall transcend all

. . . the man behind the name

the man

praying, preaching,
leading through troubled waters
following in the steps of Christ,
along the higher path of love

the man

buked and scorned,
called everything,
including child of God,
tested, arrested, tried and sentenced
penning his letter from a Birmingham jail

the man

sitting down and standing up,
protesting and marching and singing

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!
Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!
Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!
Keep on marchin’; keep on movin’; keep on marchin’ toward the freedom land”

from Selma to Montgomery to Memphis
where he waved and smiled the last time

the man. . .the man. . .the man

uprooting burdock and stink weed,
bitter roots of prejudice
that blight the land
planting peace lilies instead

the man

images forever etched in my mind
eloquent, passionate dreamer
working to weave into reality
his multi-colored dream of possibility
the vista of that gathering
with echoes of his oration
before the People of Promise
arm-over-arm, hand-in-hand
swaying in rhythmic waves
across the multitude of faces
singing softly in unison
this choir of celestial voices
“. . . Black and white together. . .”
embracing refrains from the anthem of his age:

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome, someday.
Oh, deep in my heart I do believe
We shall overcome, someday.


MLK Day of Service:

An essential element of the Martin Luther King celebration is the MLK Day of Service, as Americans across the nation are encouraged to participate in community service with “A Day On, Not a Day Off!”

Throughout his life, Dr. King sought to forge the common ground on which people from all walks of life could join together to address important community issues. Working alongside individuals of all ages, races and backgrounds, Dr. King encouraged Americans to come together to strengthen communities, alleviate poverty, and acknowledge dignity and respect for all human beings. Service, he realized, was the great equalizer when he stated:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Dr. King recognized the importance of serving others with the following statement from the sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct”, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church February 4, 1968:

“…He who is greatest among you shall be a servant. That’s the new definition of greatness…Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

The accompanying video “To Serve” is an excerpt from that sermon:

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