It is a strange experience, listening to perhaps the greatest American of the 20th century, stating that he wants to be a good man. I can think of no better man than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and yet one Sunday morning in 1968, speaking before the congregation of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King said: "I want you to know this morning that I'm a sinner like ALL of God's children. But I want to be a GOOD man!"
The sermon is called Unfulfilled Dreams, and in it he asked the congregation: "What's in your heart this morning?" He spoke of the need to "get your heart right" and the importance of trying to do what is right even if our dreams remain unfulfilled.
The sermon is in marked contrast to much of the self-congratulatory babble that fills the airwaves and our lives today, and it makes me want to dig out my old copy of Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, King's eloquent memoir of the Montgomery bus boycott and the heroism of those who fought for civil rights.
On Monday, January 16th, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It's hard to believe there was a battle over the establishment of a federal holiday to honor this American hero: it was not until 1986 that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed. In 1994, Congress designated it a national day of service. To learn more about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and how to participate, click here.
If you want to listen to some of King's sermons, check out A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Also available for checkout is his I Have a Dream speech on the CD The Greatest Speeches of All Time.
Want to learn more about Dr. King and the civil rights movement in his own eloquent words? Here's a link to books by King you can check out from the library. You can also listen to or read many of his speeches here.