by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media
“I just want to leave a committed life behind.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Drum Major Instinct,” a sermon he preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Feb. 4, 1968
I stood there in the sanctuary of that historic church and listened closely as one of King’s sermons echoed loudly through the church’s speakers. I was speechless as I listened to King’s potent words.
Ebenezer Baptist Church is where King’s funeral service was held shortly after his tragic death in 1968. The service was exclusively held for King’s family and close friends. However, following the funeral, King’s coffin was placed on the back of a mule-drawn wagon and some 50,000 people gathered for a three-mile procession that started just outside of the church and ended at Morehouse College, King’s alma mater. A public service was then held on Morehouse’s campus.
As we stood outside of the church, I asked my uncle if he remembered where he was when he heard the news that King had been assassinated. My uncle, who was just a teenager when King was killed, told me he was home when he found out. He recounted what it was like to walk downstairs and see my grandmother in the middle of the living room floor on her knees crying as she mourned King’s murder.
That’s how important King was to the average Black person. My grandmother didn’t know King personally at all, but she and many others felt like they knew him well.
The correlation for me is former President Barack Obama.
Extreme grief would have been my immediate response if something tragic had happened to Obama during his presidency. I never met him. I don’t know him personally. However, I’m pretty sure that I’d be devastated if something heinous was to happen to Obama because, as a young Black man, I didn’t grow up seeing and hearing from King on a daily basis, but for eight years I watched Obama try his best to be a president for the people, for all people. He genuinely cared. Losing a leader of his stature would be like getting kicked in the stomach.
Just like King, Obama is never the biggest man in the room, but he’s big in prestige and voice. | KMN