Art has a powerful way of permeating our consciousness and impacting our worldview. I’ll always cherish the memory of the first time I stood in front of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. This monumental, granite sculpture of the Civil Rights Movement leader is located in West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington D.C. Dr. King is only the fourth non-president to be memorialized in this significant way. And this site is additionally meaningful because it is close to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the place where Dr. King delivered his historic and memorable “I Have a Dream” speech that has stirred the hearts and imaginations of millions of people.
As a passionary, a person of great passion and action, I get truly inspired by reading biographies of people who devoted their lives to causes larger than themselves. And during the several years I was writing my memoir, SOARING Into Strength: Love Transcends Pain, I read many biographies and memoirs. Over the past few days, I finished reading Jonathan Ein’s KING: A Life.
In 560 pages, I traversed King’s life as a young boy who memorized Bible verses and sang in the church choir. As a student, his grades were unexceptional, yet his talent for oration grew as did his faith. These days, the terms “visionary,” “innovator,” and “leader” are bandied about with such velocity and frequency as ways to celebrate the founders of the latest unicorns (start up ventures with market values over $1 billion), social media influencers hawking the latest gadget or fashion must-have, or reality star. The words are used so much that they’ve lost their meaning.
When in the presence of a true visionary and leader, it can take our breath away. Doctor Reverend Martin Luther King Junior was a human being thrust into a powerful position at a young age and was determined to answer the call to bring equal rights and dignity to Black people. He did not become the voice of the Civil Rights movement overnight. Instead, he toiled in the role with complete dedication to a cause larger than himself. He traversed the country heading up marches, giving sermons and speeches, and meeting with politicians, presidents, and community organizers to inspire others to adhere to the principles of nonviolent protest as the best way to secure voting, education, housing, jobs, and dignity for Blacks. The most impressive part of his short life was this unwavering dedication to something larger than himself.
He had a true sense of meaning and purpose, which is reflected in these words from his last speech on February 4, 1968: “Everyone can be great, because anyone can serve.”
Today, consider what you can do to help realize the dream of equality and dignity for all people.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.