Re-connect with the Lyrics of Your Life This King Day

January 17th, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. is a voice, a vision, and a way . . . [t]he whole future of America will depend on the impact and influence of Dr. King. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Martin Luther King is still calling us out. He assumed we were intelligent and eloquently called out a generation to have a vision that it could achieve. He taught us how to use the great and smooth thinking of the past to inform new and ongoing victories. But, in an essay, Peter Frase reminds us that the “social revolution of the twenty-first century can’t take its poetry from the past.” Really? I understand the need for original words, but hope I can still make a good derivative – to sample and remix the past’s inspiration and knowledge.

Although it should be every day, we make Monday the official reflection point on Dr. King’s legacy. When you stop, take the time to think about the set of words that make you.  (The lyrics that changed my life came from James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook — Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Emancipation.”) On Monday, we will hear stories of protest essays, 17th century feminist poetry, and prophets that laid down the lyrics for future action and life. Join us.

As a young person, Carl Wendell Hines created poetry for his time:

Now that he is safely dead
Let us praise him
build monuments to his glory
sing hosannas to his name.
Dead men make
such convenient heroes: They
cannot rise
to challenge the images
we would fashion from their lives.
And besides,
it is easier to build monuments
than to make a better world.

Will we move safely through another King Day or build the world that matters?


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