“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. Say that 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 in 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 is traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1968 sermon titled “The Drum Major Instinct.”

Coretta Scott King, the wife of the late Reverend King, has written an essay for The King Center in which she explains the meaning of today’s holiday, which celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Mimi Hanaoka

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