March 28 MLK Short Clip

Dr. King’s most famous speech is, of course, the “I Have a Dream” speech he gave in August of 1963 at the March on Washington. You’ve probably heard excerpts from this speech numerous times, but pause now to listen to the last five minutes of the speech and be inspired once again by King’s dream for America.

March 20 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

After arguing in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” that we need “creative extremists,” Dr. King went on to express his disappointment in “white moderates” who say they are sympathetic, but don’t do anything to help.

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advised the Negro to wait until ‘a more convenient season’. Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

“I had hoped that the white moderate would see this. Maybe I was too optimistic. Maybe I expected too much. I guess I should have realized that few members of a race that has oppressed another race can understand or appreciate the deep groans and passionate yearnings of those that have been oppressed and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action.”

Link to more:

Dr. King’s last sermon was preached at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on March 31, 1968. He called the sermon “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” and below you will find a short excerpt from it as well as the entire sermon which is 46 minutes long.

Short Excerpt from “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”

Full-length recording of “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Ask yourself whether there are times when you act like the white moderates King describes who “is more devoted to order than to justice.”
  • Pray for the courage to go against the grain and support the “great revolution” that needs to take place even if it is unpopular.


March 16 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

In April of 1963, Dr. King was arrested while leading city wide protests in Birmingham, Alabama. While he was in jail, many of the white ministers in the city took out an ad in the newspaper calling King an “extremist” and saying his activities were “unwise and untimely.” King responded by writing his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” from which the excerpt below is taken.

“As I continued to think about the matter, I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist in love—’Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice—’Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ—’I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist—’Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God.’ Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist—’This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist—’We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’ So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremist will we be? Will we be extremists for hate or extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?

“In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime—the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality and, thusly, fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness and thereby rose above his environment. So after all, maybe the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

Link to more:

During the middle of the Birmingham campaign, the tactics expanded to include teenagers and some younger children in the demonstrations and many were arrested. During the height of the arrests, Dr. King spoke at a mass meeting honoring the young people who had been arrested and this three and a half minute clip has highlights from that speech.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Do you sometimes think you need to be more extreme in pursuit of justice? In what ways? What would that look like in your life?
  • Pray that God will give you the wisdom to know when you need to act as “a creative extremist.”

March 14 MLK Short Clip: How Long? Not Long!

** As Holy Week approaches, we’re posting very short clips at lunchtime on Wednesdays to inspire you and the many others on this list as we journey together toward Easter.**

At the end of the famous Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965, Dr. King gave a rousing speech from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol. This clip shows the final two minutes of that speech where Dr. King uses his famous litany “how long? not long!” to talk about his hope for the future.

March 13 MLK Reflection

** Watch for a new post on Wednesdays. As Holy Week approaches, we’ll be sending very short clips to arrive in your inbox at lunchtime on Wednesdays to inspire you and the many others on this list as we journey together toward Easter.**

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:
The concept of the “beloved community” is central to Dr. King’s vision of the world he wanted to help create. Here are some of his thoughts on the topic.

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

“There is another element that must be present in our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.”

“The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of nonviolence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”

“The aftermath of non-violence is the creation of the beloved community; the aftermath of non-violence is redemption and reconciliation. This is a method that seeks to transform and to redeem, and win the friendship of the opponent, and make it possible for men to live as brothers in a community.”

Link to more:
On April 7, 1957 , Dr. King preached a sermon entitled “Birth of a New Nation” that celebrated the independence of Ghana, the first country in Africa to get independence from colonial rule. The sermon also gives a passionate explanation of why non-violence is necessary to achieve reconciliation and bring about the beloved community. Here is a seven-minute clip from that sermon.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • What do you think Dr. King means when he says we need “a qualitative change in our souls” in order to create the beloved community?
  • Pray that you may have a greater understanding of what it truly means to be reconciled with someone you have seen as your enemy.

February 27 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:

An additional principle that Dr. King talked about in his Christmas Sermon on Peace is nonviolence and the importance of the means we use to achieve our goal of social justice.

“If we are to have peace in the world, men and nations must embrace the nonviolent affirmation that ends and means must cohere. … There have always been those who argued that the end justifies the means, that the means really aren’t important. The important things is to get to the end. … So if you are seeking to develop a just society, any means will do so long as you get there. They may be violent, they may be untruthful means; they may even be unjust means to a just end. There have been those who have argued this throughout history. But we will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and, ultimately, you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.

“It is one of the strangest things that all the great military geniuses of the world have talked about peace. the conquerors of old who came killing in pursuit of peace, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne and Napoleon were seeking a peaceful world order. … They were talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.”

Link to more:

In what was one of his first national television interviews in 1957, young Martin Luther King, Jr. (he was 28 at the time) explained his belief in non-violence to Martin Agronsky. A six minute clip from that interview can be found here.

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • If Dr. King is right that “the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree” what implications does that have for your life?
  • Pray for the wisdom to know what to do when you face a situation where there is a conflict between the goal you have in mind and the means you have to use to achieve it.


February 23 MLK Reflection

Today’s Quote from Dr. King:
Here is another insight from Dr. King’s Christmas Sermon on Peace (December 24, 1967) about what it will take to really create peace on earth.

“Our world is sick with war; everywhere we turn we see its ominous possibilities. . . There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the very destructive power of modern weapons of warfare eliminates the possibility that war may any longer serve as a negative good. And so, if we assume that life is worth living, if we assume that mankind has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war and so let us this morning explore the conditions for peace. . . .

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone, and as long as we try, the more we are going to have war in this world. Now the judgment of God is upon us, and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools. . . .

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. . . This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact.”

Link to more:

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • As you go through the day today, reflect on all of the ways that you are interdependent with others—both here and around the world.