Homage to Martin Luther King, Jr. - 2021Jan 18, 2021
On February 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a sermon titled, “The Drum Major Instinct”.
He observed that we each have an innate desire “to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade”.
In this sermon—prophetically delivered two months before the day he was assassinated—Dr. King went on to foreshadow how he would like to be remembered when he met his day:
“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.”
Throughout this sermon, Dr. King highlights key aspects of leadership: our will, our why, and the tradeoffs required by our committed service.
He continues to present an enduring example of the complexities inherent both in leadership situations and in ourselves as leaders.
Sermon transcript and audio (the cited passage begins at 37:01): https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/drum-major-instinct-sermon-delivered-ebenezer-baptist-church