Prose for a Prophet

Martin Luther King Faculty/Staff In-Service
January 18, 2010

Dr. King Let us eat and dance and celebrate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

but let us never forget that he was a militant-

in the best sense of that word.

Long before he was a Holiday,

he challenged the mighty among us, those who control the lives of others,

those who sit at the Big Table.

Here was a brother who knew that we are all souls, some with money, and some without.

His was a militancy born of compassion for those who were economically weak:

maids, butlers, waiters, and people with no jobs.

This was a brother who went to Memphis to aid striking sanitation workers,

and it was in Memphis that he was killed.

This was a brother ridiculed and demonized for opposing the war in Vietnam.

Here was a brother who dared live out Jesus' mandate that we love our enemies-

and the lesser known but implicit mandate that we not make enemies of others.

Here was a man strong enough to not hit back.

Let us eat and dance and celebrate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

but let us not forget that during his life he was vilified as an unpatriotic communist.

Let us not forget the insults he endured,

most notably the slurs: Martin Luther Coon, by whites, and Uncle Tom, by blacks.

His home was bombed, he was stoned, stabbed in the chest, and lived under the constant threat of being murdered.

But through it all, he called every man Brother and every woman Sister.

The only saints are in New Orleans.

He was not a saint; he was something better, a prophet,

And, unlike many prophets, he loved God and people.

Let us eat and dance and celebrate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

but let us never forget...


David Pilgrim
Curator, Jim Crow Museum
January 2010

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