I may not get there with you
Those are just seven words out of the four thousand one hundred and seventy-one words in Martin Luther King’s Jr. I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. Ironically the last speech he would ever deliver as he was assassinated at the young age of 39 the next day. But those seven words have always personally resonated with me for what they stand for. On the night Dr.King delivered those words he did so in a speech to support a strike by 1,300 sanitation workers, mostly African-American men, who were protesting the horrendous working conditions, poverty-level wages, and the refusal of the city to recognize their union, sadly issues still prevalent today. With those seven words Dr. King told the world what it already knew, that his own life may very well be cut short because of his leadership position in the crusade to see that America lived up to the noble words on which it was founded.
That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
With those seven words Dr. King told the world that he was not afraid to die. Not because he embraced death, not because he wanted to die. But because in his own words our lives begin to end when we stay silent about things that matter. So on the night before an assassin’s bullet would cut his life short he stood in front of a group in Memphis, Tennessee and let them know that now was not the time to turn back but the time to continue down the path of righteousness even if that path was fraught with inherent dangers. Because to turn back, to stay silent would be to accept an injustice perpetrated on an entire segment of society and to that would be unconscionable. Looking back at that speech in particular and his life in general I often wonder what humanity could accomplish, what heights we could reach, where we may already be, if each of us had just a tiny bit of the resolve and courage that Dr.King had to do what was right despite what it may cost us personally.
I may not get there with you – just seven words but seven words that still resonate loudly today