The issue was injustice.
Here in Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, he said:
Somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights. And so just as I said, we aren’t going to let dogs or water hoses turn us around. We aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.
He could not have known the next day, April 4th, he’d be dead, but he was more than wise enough to know any day could find his fateful end.
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. 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. So 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.
Dr. King spoke for unity. He spoke for change. He spoke for nonviolent protest.
He did these things with an informed fervor that raised the bar for what people believed would be possible.
He elevated expectations. We owe it to his memory to do the same.
All of us.
We celebrate him today in the United States when our country is perhaps its most polarized since the Civil War.
What do your children, your grandchildren, what do you know about Dr. King?
Spend a few minutes today learning. For he would surely agree that education, understanding, and context all empower us and fuel our belief in what’s possible.
Then act, speak, write… do something… be a little bit better today than you were yesterday.
And when you act, act with dignity.
And when you speak, speak with purpose.
And when you write, write as though you, too, have been to the mountaintop.
We’ve got some difficult days ahead.
We need you to be at your best.
The issue is injustice.
We are going on.