Honor Dr. King: Answer The Call For Peace



The last speech Martin Luther King Jr. ever gave still resonates today. Most clips on YouTube focus on the closing flourish, the soaring oratory that assured “I’ve been to the mountaintop” would be immortalized alongside “I have a dream.”

As he ended his 43-minute address—with storms raging outside the Mason Temple in Memphis—Dr. King made a thunderous call for justice, equality and peace:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.


If you listen to the entire speech or read the full text, there are ominous overtones throughout. Dr. King talked about a “demented black woman” stabbing him in the chest as he signed copies in 1958 of the first book he wrote. The blade nearly punctured his aorta. And he spoke of “the threats that were out—what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.”

And even though his final words were uplifting, they were also prophetic: “I may no get there with you.”

We Need To Just Listen

An assassin’s bullet struck Dr. King down less than 24 hours later. But it failed to silence him. The echo of his voice reverberates through the years. We need to just listen.

Dr. King has been gone nearly 52 years now. He was with us only 39 years. Today would have been his 91st birthday, and on Monday we will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

 This weekend we should be remembering—and honoring—this great man of peace. Sadly, the threat of violence hangs over the nation’s capitol and, according to federal authorities, every state capitol in the Union. Tragically, we have seen far too much blood be shed here in our community in recent years, with our record-setting homicide rate. Nationwide, the FBI reports that hate crimes—violent attacks motivated by bias or prejudice—are at their highest level since the turn of the 21st Century. 

COMBAT Director Vince Ortega
 COMBAT Director Vince Ortega

A wreath and historical plaque mark the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Words Matter

We have come far, but not nearly far enough, and tragically we’ve taken steps backward. Racism, bigotry and misogyny remain far too prevalent in our society. Too many believe might makes right—that resorting to violence or merely instilling fear will enable them to “win.” If they cannot persuade, they will terrorize.

And words matter. They can be weaponized. But if words can be used to spark the fire, they can also be used to extinguish it.

Maybe we can start by keeping Dr. King’s dream alive… by seeing every human being as a brother or sister—someone to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion. 

Commit To Making Tomorrow Better Than Today

When he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. King rejected “the cynical notion” that violence was inevitable. Instead, he said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.”

Let’s commit to making tomorrow better than today.

Remember Dr. King. Honor him. Listen to his voice. Answer the call for peace.

Maybe we can start by keeping Dr. King’s dream alive… by seeing every human being as a brother or sister—someone to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion.