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We Must Beat the Drum

March 10, 2011

“If you want to be important – Wonderful. If you want to be recognized – Wonderful! If you want to be great – Wonderful! But recognize that he who is greatest among you, shall be your SERVANT. That’s a new definition of greatness…”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, The Drum Major’s Instinct

These words uttered by Dr. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church hold in them a fundamental spiritual truth that we are all, as Dr. King also said “tied together in a single garment of destiny, an inescapable network of mutuality.” This awareness and commitment to the our fundamental connectedness drove this giant to set out on the “Poor Peoples Campaign”, to speak out against an unjust war, and to ultimately meet his end fighting for sanitation workers in Memphis, TN.

Today, across the nation the rights of the poor and working class of this country are being trampled on and marginalized by the pawns of monied interests. Muslims are being paraded in McCarthyist fashion before the House of Representatives for no other reason but their religion. HIV funding is being cut from urban centers in the midst of an epidemic 65% rate of infection in African-American women. Even programs as foundational to our children as Reading Is Fundamental have been defunded, and I say that for many of us who have been watching …it’s time to beat the drum.

I’m sounding the alarm for some young men and women, some drum majors to once again step on to freedoms battlefield and be the catalyst for this inswell of discontent that is brewing in the belly of this nations working class. I’m looking for some prophets who will work from spiritual awareness to address social facts. Who will cry out like Martin and Malcom and demand our place at the table.

I’ve decided that I’m going to be one of those prophets. This call isn’t for everybody. This moment is only for the ones who would be great! Who would do service for their family – for their community – for humanity! I’m looking for the next drum majors. This generations voice for the people.

This isn’t easy – but we have to again beat the drum!

In the face of all the change affecting the country, and all the changes still needed, Dr. King in this same message reflected on what measure he would like to be rememberes, and said:

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity!

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.

Amen to that.

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