MLK Jr. has a spot on my yoga wall as one of my teachers. When I learned more about him, particularly in high school, I was taken with his intellect but even moreso his public speaking. His cadence and rhythm combined with rhetoric made for powerful speeches no one could argue with. Much like gospel music even if you didn’t agree you still had to believe.
He seemed larger than life and like most figures he’s become almost a myth in later years. Discussions rage about who he really was as a man and what his message means in a modern America. Nonviolence and his influence from Gandhi and then Thich Nhat Hanh’s nomination for the Nobel Peace prize comes directly from Martin’s hands. He was ecumenical in his approach and would have easily sat down with someone not only of another ancestry but of different belief.
Through the speeches I’ve listened to I’ve been made aware that much like Hitler, when it comes to public speaking you cannot only be logical. Your speech must pull on heart strings to be made real. This is why orators are remembered as they are. Speech and using words well can move people in the way music can but add logic and laughter and you’ve really got something. To have an influence on people and to sway them towards a greater good you must be strong in your own beliefs and possess the ability to bring others along with you for the benefit of the rest of mankind.
For his time Martin could change the way black people in America thought about themselves and how the rest of America considered them. Opposing the Vietnam war was not the best path he could have taken for his own life and I keep in mind that a man so great didn’t get very far when he opposed the economic and political factors that supported the war machine.
“Movements come and movements go
Leaders speak, movements cease
When their heads are flown
‘Cause all these punks
Got bullets in their heads
Departments of police, the judges, the feds
Networks at work, keepin’ people calm
You know they went after King
When he spoke out on Vietnam
He turned the power to the have-nots
And then came the shot”~~Wake Up by Rage Against the Machine
May Martin’s words and dreams live on. Remember he was a human first, black second. The categories we keep should bring us together not separate.