“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.'”
—Dr King, March 8, 1965
Why a drum major Dr. Martin Luther King?
Since 1986, every third Monday of January, our great nation celebrates the accomplishments of Dr. King. He played many roles during his lifetime: minister, author, civil rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, father, husband and son. Some remember him best as the American architect of modern nonviolent protest methods. Others remember him as an eloquent statesman who used his academic training and natural gifts to craft speeches so powerful we still quote him five decades later. Still others remember him for his courage in the face of brutally.
By all accounts he was a humble man, yet many believe he wanted to be remembered as the man out front, the drum major. You’ve probably read this oft quoted passage from one of his most famous speeches, The Drum Major Instinct, “…say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.” Why a drum major? Dr. King was innovative, collaborative, and engaged with the community before those phrases became popular. He led major protests against racial inequality, discriminatory hiring practice, and economic injustice. Why not be remembered as the man who inspired thousands of strangers with different experiences to unite for a common cause?
The fact is Dr. King did not want to be remembered as a drum major. The frequently omitted portion of that famous quote begins with the words, “Yes, IF you want to say that I was a drum major…” That was not how he chose to be remembered, however. He ended his remarks by asking to be remembered as one who “tried to give his life serving others.”
So we honor him and his wishes today by remembering the life and love of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
All rights reserved. 2019. Monica F. Anderson