King’s last sermon, “Drum Major Instinct,” was given in Atlanta on 4 February 1968. Rev. King concluded the sermon by imagining his own funeral which was two months in the future, downplaying his famous achievements and emphasizing his heart to do right.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.
If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song, If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain.
If I can do my duty as a Christian ought, If I can bring salvation to a world once wrought, If I can spread the message as the master taught, Then my living will not be in vain.
Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, not for any selfish reason. I want to be on your right or your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition. But I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.
To read the full text of the speech: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/
Tomorrow, This Author’s Pen Rita Bay