Mountaintop evening

April 3, 2013

Forty five years ago tonight, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his Mountaintop speech in Memphis, Tennessee, preparing to march with sanitary workers in that city.  He was killed the next day, April 4, 1968.  He knew he was pushing the boundaries of what people could tolerate in solidarity with all suffering people – not just blacks, but the working poor, victims of war, and more.  His speech reflects his awareness that the powers and principalities were closing in and that he did not have much longer to live.  His message was that the movement would go on and that, even if he didn’t get to the Promised Land, that ‘we, as a people’ would get there.

It’s a speech I listen to every year at this time.  It’s a reminder to me of the struggle of that time – and our time.  It just about always makes me cry.  It’s a chance to lament our persistent failure to heed the prophets.  It’s another version of the cross – and another occasion for resurrection.

The last two and a half minutes of the speech can be watched here:

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