Photo Credit: Pabo76
“When he stepped up to the microphone, there was a musicality in his voice,” said Van Jones, a civil rights activist, author, and political contributor for CNN. “You can hear the beauty of his performance because he’s just one step from singing.” From the article, “Community Celebrates MLK’s ‘Artistic Genius.'”
Reflecting on MLK
I have been blown away today by the MLK quotes streaming all over the web. It was as if MLK was a quote making machine. But his quotes have a different quality to them than the typical inspirational quotes we read and share every day. His quotes had a unique power to motivate people to action, to cut to the core of what it means to live, and to incite fear into the hearts of the power brokers of his time. His words don’t look like they will be dying out any time soon either. They will impact many generations to come.
Why is this the case? First of all it is about more than words. Behind those words was a life placed on the line. He was willing to die for concepts behind his statements long before his assassination. He stood against the highest authorities carrying a quiver filled with highly crafted phrases that would bring down more walls than any fashioned weapon of war ever could. His life was a wellspring that these words flowed from. They would flow out as he planned his speeches, and they would flow when he went off script. King never even read the final prepared part of his I have a dream speech. He went freestyle off script. I love this quote from Van Jones about that moment. “He never gives the last paragraph of the speech,” Jones said. “He pushes back and looks up, and what you hear then is the greatest act of slam poetry in the history of the Republic.” This is the mark of a true craftsman. He was clearly a person who spent hours upon hours carefully crafting words that cut to the heart. His words flowed not only from his own resources, but from the Holy Spirit who was his guide. The poetic artistry of MLK was like a smart bomb to the heart of millions and they continue to penetrate our hearts today. His enduring words are a testament to the high value that creative expression has in changing hearts in the world, and a testament to how immensely powerful a life aligned with words spoken can be.
10 Quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.
To close my post I thought it only made sense to display some of his handiwork. The soundcloud audio at the bottom is a musical arrangement my friend @soundsofbrown put behind an excerpt from his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
- “Mankind must put and end to war or war will put an end to mankind.”
- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
- “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
- “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
- “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
- “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.”
- “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
- “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
- “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
- “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the comments below please share how MLK’s life and words have impacted your life?