He was an amazing orator and had a remarkable ability to articulate the struggle, and inspire people to action. He was not simply a demagogue or a symbol of the movement, but lived on the front lines. He participated at the grass-roots level, whether it was marching in Selma or courting arrest in Birmingham. He was not a “self-professed” leader, but he worked…tirelessly…and was the first to take a risk or make a sacrifice when called upon. And through this, he earned the respect of his peers and became a leader. To quote a line from my favorite movie Braveheart, “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”
What I admire most about Dr. King was his vision – and his ability to pour himself completely in to a movement that he knew he would never see the outcome of. But the foundation he laid was so strong, it was able to carry on without him. This was the genius of Dr. King. And over time, so much of his “dream” has been realized, even in our present day.
Perhaps this is something Sikh leaders and “leaders-to-be” can reflect upon.
What can we learn from Dr. King’s life and work for the Sikh Nation to realize it’s full potential?
His famous “I Have a Dream” speech will likely be played on television and radio stations all day throughout the country. I’ve heard it in its entirety several times and it still gives me goose bumps. But another one that I find particularly powerful was his famous “Mountaintop” speech. Amidst several death threats, he delivered this on April 3, 1968 at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. Here is a video of his closing words, which would turn out to be his last public speech, as he was assassinated hours later.