[xmca] No MLK, on this of all days?

From: Mike Cole (lchcmike@gmail.com)
Date: Mon Jan 16 2006 - 19:06:50 PST

How odd. Today is the national observance of the life and death of Martin
Luther King. The sun has set. The air is getting cool. And not a whisper of
the man who gave us this
day in exchange for his life.

If you have the time, I suggest that you check out his last speech, in
support of badly paid, low status workers in Memphis. The URL is


And in case you have more important things to do, here is some of the text
toward the end of his speech that might reward a quick glance... or two.

That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the
sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually
spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is
not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I do
not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's
the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater
determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of
challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to
make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for
allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first
book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a
demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are
you Martin Luther King?"

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt
something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this
demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday
afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the
tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once
that's punctured, you drown in your own blood—that's the end of you.

It came out in the *New York Times* the next morning, that if I had sneezed,
I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the
operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out,
to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read
some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world,
kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I
had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten
what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the
Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was
another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student
at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never
forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the
White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would
like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your
misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you
would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that
you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't
sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960,
when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I
knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best
in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells
of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been
around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their
backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are
going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I
had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of
Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into
being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance
later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had
had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in
Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are
suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't
matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started
on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address
system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on
the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure
that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything
carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about
the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick
white brothers?

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


I have not seen that far myself. But I am pretty sure we have difficult days
ahead. And to quote another man I admire, I find that while the mountains
may not get higher and higher, the valleys

sure do get deeper and deeper.


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