Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.1964
This is a draft of the article “A Look to 1964” written by Dr. King. Published on January 1, 1964 in the New York Amsterdam News. In the article, Dr. King addresses the strides the African American people have taken towards the struggle for equality.
18 Jan – King meets with President Lyndon Johnson
23 Jan – Ratification of 24th Amendment
The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment was proposed on August 27, 1962, and ratified on January 23, 1964. It prohibits the federal government or the states from making voters pay a poll tax before they can vote in a national election. A poll tax, also called a head tax, is a tax collected equally from all voters. The amendment was proposed as a Civil Rights measure because southern states had used the poll tax to keep African Americans from voting.
poll taxes were commonly imposed in the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted but had fallen into disuse by the mid-nineteenth century. After the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, the poll tax was revived in the South as a way to prevent African Americans, who were mostly poor, from voting. The poll tax also denied poor whites the right to vote. Typically, the unpaid fees would accumulate from election to election, making it more difficult for poor persons to find the economic resources to qualify for voting.
In Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277, 58 S. Ct. 205, 82 L. Ed. 252 (1937), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes, by themselves, did not violate the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments. Breedlove led to the introduction of the first poll tax constitutional amendment in 1939 and to efforts to abolish the poll tax through State Action. By 1960 only five southern states still had poll taxes.
The abolition of the poll tax was not a controversial issue, even at a time of fierce southern resistance to racial desegregation. The amendment was limited to federal elections, however, leaving state elections outside its scope. Following the ratification of the Twenty-fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court abandoned the Breedlove precedent. In Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 86 S. Ct. 1079, 16 L. Ed. 2d 169 (1966), the Court struck down poll taxes in state and local elections, ruling that such taxes violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
Louis Allen, witness to the September 25, 1961 killing of Mississippi voting rights proponent Herbert Lee, is shot to death near McComb, Mississippi. Allen had been attempting to provide new evidence about Lee’s murderers.
The killing of Mr. Allen has never been solved.
3 Feb – NYC school boycott
In one of the largest demonstrations of the Civil Rights movement, hundreds of thousands of parents, students and civil rights advocates took part in a citywide boycott of the New York City public school system to demonstrate their support for the full integration of the city’s public schools and an end to de facto segregation. The idea for a boycott began in the early 1960s, when Milton Galamison, a Presbyterian minister and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Brooklyn branch, brought parents, teachers, and local civil rights activists together in a coalition called the Parents’ Workshop for Equality in New York City Schools. The organization’s sole objective was to render the racial imbalance of African American and Puerto Rican schools by persuading the New York City Board of Education to implement integration timetables. After years of unsuccessful lobbying, the Parents’ Workshop for Equality decided to take direct action against the school board and called upon Bayard Rustin to organize a one-day protest and boycott of the city’s public school system. With the boycott set for February 3, 1964, Rustin worked with local Civil Rights organizations to plan the boycott, as well as local ministers who established freedom schools for participating students to attend. Response from the African American and Puerto Rican communities was overwhelming as more than 450,000 students refused to attend their respective schools on the day of the boycott. In addition, thousands of demonstrators staged peaceful rallies at the Board of Education, City Hall and the Manhattan office of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Despite enjoying broad support, the boycott failed to force the city’s school board to undertake immediate reform.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was joined by other legends of the American civil-rights movement in the march on Frankfort, Ky., on March 5, 1964.
The event helped solidify support for Kentucky’s 1966 enactment of a civil-rights law.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and kindred civil-rights organizations have announced plans for a commemorative march in Frankfort on March 5 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first demonstration.
The commemorative march and an accompanying rally will be from 10 a.m. to around noon on that date. Assembly is planned at Second Street and Capital Avenue at 9:30 a.m. to line up to proceed to the State Capitol.
Participation is open to anyone “who is proud of Kentucky’s historic role in helping to end segregation by becoming the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to have a state Civil Rights Act,” said John Johnson, the state Human Rights Commission’s executive director.
The historic March 5, 1964, march on Frankfort drew more than 10,000 people who walked to the Capitol to urge passage of a law that would help end segregation by making discrimination illegal in the areas of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, theatres, and hotels.
Civil rights leaders, citizens of all races, and celebrities participated. In addition to King, marchers included the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and baseball great Jackie Robinson, who broke the major league baseball color barrier. The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary led songs about freedom in front of the Capitol.
Johnson said the event next March is also intended to promote such contemporary justice-related issues as working to end poverty and restoring voter rights to former felons after their release.
The Kentucky General Assembly will be in session in March, Johnson noted.
Six months after the March on Washington, he discussed the obligations of “the Negro” in an integrated society, non-violence, and having eggs thrown at him in Harlem.
On March 18, 1964, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren sat down with Martin Luther King Jr. in King’s offices in Atlanta to interview him for what would become Warren’s 1965 book Who Speaks for the Negro? Warren, a Kentuckian who in the 1940s had been one of America’s first poet laureates (then called the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress), was going around the country interviewing civil-rights leaders and grassroots organizers, such as King, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, and Ralph Ellison. The tapes remained in Warren’s archives, and were scattered between universities for decades until a young scholar in 2006 sparked a conversation that led, six years later, to a unified collection of the tapes and other research materials for the Warren book at one university, in a digitized format that made them easily accessible online for the first time.
24 Mar – Southern Christian Leadership Conference campaign in St. Augustine, Fla.
In the spring of 1964, as St. Augustine, Florida, prepared to celebrate its 400th anniversary, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) launched a massive campaign supporting the small local movement to end racial discrimination in the nation’s oldest city. King hoped that demonstrations there would lead to local desegregation and that media attention would garner national support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was then stalled in a congressional ﬁlibuster.
Organized demonstrations reached St. Augustine in the summer of 1963, when Robert B. Hayling, a local dentist and advisor to the Youth Council of the city’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led pickets and sit-ins against segregated businesses. The Ku Klux Klan and other whites responded with violence against demonstrators, which escalated through the fall of 1963, when Hayling and three other NAACP members were severely beaten at a Klan rally, then arrested and convicted of assaulting their attackers. In December 1963, after a grand jury blamed the racial crisis on Hayling and other activists, the NAACP asked for Hayling’s resignation. St. Augustine activists then turned to SCLC for support. Read more…
26 Mar – King meets Malcolm X
After press conference at U.S. Senate, King briefly meets Malcolm X for the first and only time. King says of the encounter, “He (Malcolm X) is very articulate, but I totally disagree with many of his political and philosophical views–at least insofar as I understand where he now stands.”
On April 20, 1964, an estimated 60,000 black children stayed away from district schools in a boycott organized by a group of ministers and civil rights activists known as the United Freedom Movement. That represented about 85 percent of black students in a district that then had more than 150,000 students overall.
Between 35,000 and 45,000 boycotting students — roughly the size of the entire district today — attended special schools set up by the UFM that day in churches, homes and community centers. They received lessons on the achievements of black people in government and the arts and lessons on the importance of education, all taught by volunteer housewives, social workers and former teachers from other districts.
“A loud voice representing hundreds of thousands of Cleveland citizens today shouted, ‘Segregated schools in Cleveland must go,'” UFM coordinator Harold Williams told The Plain Dealer at the end of that day.
The UFM’s most immediate complaint may strike many as odd today: the district’s plan to build new schools in black neighborhoods. But the group viewed that as a way to keep schools segregated.
The district ran neighborhood schools, so segregated neighborhoods had segregated schools. In some cases, black students at overcrowded schools were bused to other neighborhoods. That drew complaints and led to voters approving a school construction program in 1962.
The UFM protested construction of the new schools since that would prevent busing and integration, according to Plain Dealer accounts.
Two weeks before the boycott, the Rev. Bruce Klunder, a Presbyterian minister, had been killed when he tried to block a bulldozer with his body at a school construction site in Glenville.
Because of these and other protests, the school board agreed to bus black students to promote integration, according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. But the disputes over busing and integration led to federal court oversight of the district, which did not end until the 1990s.
By the spring of 1964, movements in New York City against racial discrimination had reached a fevered pitch. Minimal advancements from previous campaigns led activists to abandon non-violent direct action protests that had sought to fight racism from within the city’s liberal reform institutions. With its plan for a traffic stopping “stall-in” on the opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair, Brooklyn’s chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) initiated a new approach in its fight against racism: instead of working within the municipal system to negotiate change in power structures, it would force biased labor unions, the segregated education system, and an indifferent government administration to meet its demands immediately, or it would disrupt the entire city. Protests from the summer of 1963 illustrate the activists’ frustrations with token advancements.
“No movement characterized Florida’s political and social life in the 1960s as much as did civil rights for the state’s long-neglected and much-abused African-American population,” writes Michael Gannon in Florida: A Short History. Emboldened by various legal successes against segregation in the preceding years, such as the Tallahassee bus boycott of 1956 and the desegregation of Dade County schools in 1959 and 1960, the state’s African-American citizens became more aggressive in pursuing equality and integration in all aspects of life. This irresistible force for change collided with the immovable traditions of Jim Crow during 1963 in St. Augustine, as the city was preparing for its 400th anniversary of settlement. The “Ancient City” soon found itself in the national spotlight as outsiders from both camps, as well as members of the national media, descended on this quaint and peaceful town of 20,000.
In 1964, civil rights organizations including the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized a voter registration drive, known as the Mississippi Summer Project, or Freedom Summer, aimed at dramatically increasing voter registration in Mississippi. The Freedom Summer, comprised of black Mississippi’s and more than 1,000 out-of-state, predominately white volunteers, faced constant abuse and harassment from Mississippi’s white population. The Ku Klux Klan, police and even state and local authorities carried out a systematic series of violent attacks; including arson, beatings, false arrest and the murder of at least three civil rights activists.
5 Jun – King’s book Why Can’t We Wait is published Dorothy Cotton authors the introduction to the text. Cotton, who worked closely with King, was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and explains being present when King decided to proceed with a protest that would land him in prison. Cotton notes, “Martin’s decision to go to jail was a crucial turning point for the civil rights struggle.” Yet, as King himself explains, the decision to be incarcerated allowed him to demonstrate his belief in the importance of freedom and justice. Cotton explains how Freedom Songs bolstered the hope of her and other supporters, and concludes with the assertion that the messages from Why We Can’t Wait are relevant and as urgent today as they were in Birmingham in 1963.
Legendary civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent a night in the jail on a trespassing charge after he and others were arrested after they attempted to eat in the Monson Restaurant on June 11, 1964. The arrest was reported in The St. Augustine Record and is included in the state legislative committee’s investigative report, “Racial & Civil Disorders in St. Augustine,” February 1965. King was one of many civil rights protestors and demonstrators who were arrested and held in the county jail in 1963 and 1964, according to a commemorative plaque placed outside the old jail.
….Hosea Williams hit on the perfect plan, one that would help us beat the heat and challenge segregation at the same time: We would integrate the motel swimming pools.
“But how will we do that?” I asked. ” As soon as we walk down the street with our bathing suits on, the
“It’s easy,” said Hosea. “I’ve already got it worked out. A couple of our white friends will register at the
On June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers—two white students from the north and one black local—disappeared shortly after being arrested in Philadelphia, Miss. The three had been killed by two local policemen and a group of Klansmen who objected to their campaign to register black voters.
28 Jun – Malcolm X speech at founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity
30 Jun –
Dr. King spoke at a civil rights rally at the San Francisco Cow Palace for the Northern California Council of Churches.
2 Jul – King & Johnson
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the nation’s benchmark civil rights legislation, and it continues to resonate in America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Passage of the Act ended the application of “Jim Crow” laws, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Court held that racial segregation purported to be “separate but equal” was constitutional. The Civil Rights Act was eventually expanded by Congress to strengthen enforcement of these fundamental civil rights.
Dr. King explains “a sizable number of Negro voters” will register for the 1964 presidential election, recognizing the significance of political participation.
The bodies of three civil rights workers missing for six weeks have been found buried in a partially constructed dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation found the three young men – two white and one black man – about six miles from the town in a wooded area near where they were last seen on the night of 21 June.
They were Michael Schwerner, aged 24, Andrew Goodman, 20, both from New York and James Chaney, 22, from Meridian, Mississippi. All were members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) dedicated to non-violent direct action against racial discrimination.
President Lyndon B Johnson wrote:
My fellow Americans:
On this occasion the American people and our American system are making history.
For so long as man has lived on this earth poverty has been his curse.
On every continent in every age men have sought escape from poverty’s oppression.
Today for the first time in all the history of the human race, a great nation is able to make and is willing to make a commitment to eradicate poverty among its people.
Whatever our situation in life, whatever our partisan affiliation, we can be grateful and proud that we are able to pledge ourselves this morning to this historic course. We can be especially proud of the nature of the commitments that we are making.
This is not in any sense a cynical proposal to exploit the poor with a promise of a handout or a dole.
We know–we learned long ago–that answer is no answer.
The measure before me this morning for signature offers the answer that its title implies–the answer of opportunity. For the purpose of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 is to offer opportunity, not an opiate.
Dr. King addresses the Democratic National Committee urging them to stand up against the inequities that prevent Negro participation in the political process in the state of Mississippi.
24-27 Aug – 1964 Democratic National Convention
After the Supreme Court struck down legal segregation in schools with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the fight for equal access in other arenas intensified. In Montgomery, Alabama, African Americans boycotted segregated buses; people filed suit to desegregate schools. Civil rights activists organized “Freedom Rides” to challenge Southern states’ authority to mandate segregation on interstate travel. As the experiences of Freedom Riders revealed the entrenchment of segregation, volunteers traveled to the South to help register African Americans to vote. In 1964, African Americans in Mississippi who had been denied the right to vote formed their own political party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Members traveled to New Jersey to attend the Democratic National Convention, and one of their delegates, Fannie Lou Hamer, spoke at the convention.
On May 17, 1954, the U. S. Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), that segregated public schools was unconstitutional. Prior to the Court’s decision, African American students in Virginia and across the South were educated in a dual school system, one Black and one white, in abysmal school conditions. The curricula, textbooks, equipment, and school buildings were substandard. African American schools were without gymnasiums, restrooms, cafeterias, lockers, or auditoriums with fixed seating, and students were issued textbooks that were in utter disrepair and discarded by white schools.
In an act of defiance to the landmark Supreme Court decision, Virginia, followed by other Southern states, enacted numerous laws designed to deliberately nullify, obfuscate and delay the ruling and to minimize desegregation wherever it occurred. Virginia embarked upon a public policy of “Massive Resistance” to public school desegregation, which earned the Commonwealth the dubious distinction of depriving thousands of African Americans and white students of an education. In fact, all levels of government demonstrated intense resistance to compliance with the Brown decision and Virginia exhausted every possible means to avoid desegregation. The resistance lasted 10 years. Public schools were first closed in Warren County, and then in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Prince Edward County. In Arlington, state public education funds were rescinded because the county’s public schools did not remain segregated. When public schools were eventually re-opened in some areas of the Commonwealth, African American students, and there were very few, attending white schools were harassed, threatened, isolated, humiliated, and treated with contempt.
In Prince Edward County, public schools remained closed for five years until the Supreme Court ordered the re-opening of the county’s public schools in 1964. The General Assembly responded to the 1964 U. S. Supreme Court decision in Griffin v. School Board of Prince Edward County by repealing the laws it had enacted to protect segregated schools and by dismantling the legislative architecture of Massive Resistance.
In September 1964, at the invitation of Willy Brandt (then West Berlin’s mayor, later West German chancellor) 35-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to West Berlin to speak at a ceremony commemorating the assassinated US president John F. Kennedy who had visited West Germany in 1963.
During his brief visit to East Berlin in 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon here in the Protestant St. Marienkirche. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo
Early in the morning of September 13, the day after King’s arrival at Tempelhof Airport, East German border guards had shot and wounded 21-year-old Michael Meyer as he was trying to escape from East Berlin. He swam across the Spree River along the Berlin Wall but found he was still in East Berlin. After being struck by several bullets, Meyer was rescued by an American soldier who heroically managed somehow to pull him over the Wall to safety. When King learned of the incident, he hurried to the Kreuzberg district to witness the scene of the rescue himself.
PHOTO: Landesarchiv Berlin
The Wall was then only three years old. (In September 2010, a memorial plaque was placed at the site of the Berlin Wall shooting on Stallschreiber Straße to commemorate Dr. King’s visit there in 1964.)
The man who once headed the nation’s most violent Ku Klux Klan organization admitted he thwarted justice in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers and said he didn’t mind going to prison because a fellow Klansman got away with murder.
“I was quite delighted to be convicted and have the main instigator of the entire affair walk out of the courtroom a free man,” Sam Bowers, former imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said in a secret taped interview he gave more than a decade ago to state archives officials. “Everybody – including the trial judge and the prosecutors and everybody else – knows that that happened. This hurts the imperial authority when they have to stoop to conquer, and I think that I did make them stoop to conquer.”
Bowers’ interview, contained on three tapes about an hour each, sheds new light on the Klan’s killings of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney in 1964 near Philadelphia.
13 Nov – KING at Duke University
Dr. King addresses the issues of poverty, unemployment, education, health, and housing disparities within the nation. Granted, many strides have been made but there is still more work to be done. Equality has still not come full circle in regards to these social issues. Dr. King urges the people to continue the fight of social justice in all aspects of inequality.
King’s 1964 speech at Duke (Audio)
14 Nov – KING Wins Nobel Peace Prize
African American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. At 35 years of age, the Georgia-born minister was the youngest person ever to receive the award.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta in 1929, the son of a Baptist minister. He received a doctorate degree in theology and in 1955 organized the first major protest of the civil rights movement: the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. Influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, he advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to racial segregation. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted, and their nonviolent movement gained momentum.
Dr. King believes that there are lessons in understanding the process of history, that evil carries the seed of destruction and that militarism is ultimately suicidal. Dr. King states that “history teaches the lesson that all reality hinges on moral foundations.”
Martin Luther King Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize. Image credit: Bettmann/Corbis
http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/01/76/10/516671/5/628×471.jpg Photo Credit STF
On December 17, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King was honored by the people of New York for his unparalleled contributions to the civil rights movement in a City Hall ceremony presentation of the Medallion of Honor.
Just six days earlier, Dr. King had stood before an audience at the University of Oslo and become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. King ultimately donated the prize money of over $54,000 to various civil rights organizations, including the Unity Council and Southern Christian Leadership Conference and established a non-violence education fund.
11 Dec – The Quest for Peace and Justice
It is impossible to begin this lecture without again expressing my deep appreciation to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament for bestowing upon me and the civil rights movement in the United States such a great honor. Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment I am presently experiencing. I experience this high and joyous moment not for myself alone but for those devotees of nonviolence who have moved so courageously against the ramparts of racial injustice and who in the process have acquired a new estimate of their own human worth. Many of them are young and cultured. Others are middle aged and middle class. The majority are poor and untutored. But they are all united in the quiet conviction that it is better to suffer in dignity than to accept segregation in humiliation. These are the real heroes of the freedom struggle: they are the noble people for whom I accept the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1964: 50 Years Ago
I Still Believe
A Litany based on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1964 Nobel Price for Peace Acceptance Speech.
One: I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.
All: I believe that there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.
One: I refuse to accept the idea that the “is-ness” of humanity’s present nature makes us morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “ought-ness” that forever confronts us.
All: I believe that what the self-centered have torn down the other-centered can build up.
One: I refuse to accept the idea that we are mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround us.
All: I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.
One: I refuse to accept the view that humanity is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of isms that the bright daybreak of peace and equality can never become a reality.
All: I still believe that one day we will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over hate, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.
One: I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
All: I believe that wounded justice can reign supreme.
One: This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
All: I still believe that We Shall overcome!
One: And with this faith, we can face the uncertainties of the future.
All: May it give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom, equality and justice , where the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every one shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.”.
The King Center http://www.thekingcenter.org/
Embracing Dr. King’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence to eliminate poverty, racism and violence, The King Center is determined to have a positive impact on the continuing struggle to fulfill his great dream for America and the world. The King Center’s mission is designed to meet this challenge.
King Holiday Observance – 2014 will be held from
Friday, January 10, 2014 – Monday, January 20, 2014
To view PDF versions of the events pamphlet click here
January 20, 2014 will mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. This milestone is a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.
MLK Drum Majors for Service are the helping hands who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service with reliability and commitment, but who seldom receive recognition. The MLK Drum Major for Service recognition is an opportunity to acknowledge that work and share stories of those leaders in your community. Learn more.
There are many ways to get involved on MLK Day. Below, you can use the All for Good search widget to find an opportunity near you. We’ve also included a photo gallery of images from previous MLK Day projects, an inspiring video, and links to our social media channels where you can engage with others before, during, and after MLK Day.
Everybody Can Serve A Call to Worship
One: Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness.
If you want to be important, wonderful.
If you want to be recognized, wonderful.
If you want to be great, wonderful.
But recognize that the One who is greatest among you, shall be your servant.
One: That’s a new definition of greatness.
The thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great.
One: Because everybody can serve.
One: You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
All: All right.
One: You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.
You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve.
You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
One:You only need a heart full of grace.
All: Yes, and Amen
One: A soul generated by love.
One: And you can be that servant.
All: Amen and amen.
(Litany from the Ordination Service of Vickey Gibbs as adapted from Dr. King’s The Drum Major Instinct)
A UCC Litany
The ultimate measure of humankind, according to Martin Luther King Jr., is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand in times of challenge and controversy.
O God, we pray, give us courage to be counted among those who will work for justice.
In 1963, in his challenging letter to complacent white clergy in the South, Dr. King wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. In the end,” he said, “we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
O God, we pray, transform our stillness into action, our fear into courage.
Inspired by the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, Thoreau, and Gandhi, King taught that nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon because it “cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it. Nonviolence is a sword that heals.”
O God, we pray, heal this nation through the work of our hands.
In 1964, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, he said that “unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
O God, we pray, may we always trust in the strength of your goodness.
In 1967, King wrote that, in the wealthiest nation in the world, the solution to poverty is simply this: “We must abolish it!”
O God, we pray, rearrange the priorities of peoples and nations so that all will receive in equal measure.
And on the day before his death, Dr. King described his ministry succinctly: “I just want to do God’s will.”
O God, we pray, raise up prophets among us who will lead us in your ways.
Adapted by Rev. Vickey Gibbs, Office of Emerging Ministries