Free at Last. . . .

I was there – live and in person – when Martin Luther King delivered his speech which ended with the words “free at last, free at last, thank God a’mighty we are free at last.” It was an amazing day – but it was not at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963. It was in Miami Beach in 1961.

When I was 14 years old, the American Lutheran Church Luther League Convention was held in Miami Beach, Florida, August 15-20, 1961. St. Mark Lutheran Church in Mt. Prospect sent a contingent of “Hi Leaguers” to this august August event. And I was one of them. Dr. King was the keynote speaker.

Dr. King’s speech was recorded – and transcribed – and can be found at This last few days, I revisited the transcription of that speech 61 years ago. “Powerful” is an understatement. They are words that we would be well advised to remember. And incorporate into our lives. A few examples which apply today. . . .

The world in which we live is a neighborhood, and we face the moral responsibility of making it a brotherhood. We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.

All life is inter-related and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny so that whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

” . . . there is a voice crying through the vista of time saying to every potential Peter ‘put down your sword.’ History is replete with the bleached bones of nations. History is cluttered with the wreckage of communities that fail to follow this command.”

And he quotes John Donne – “No man is an island entirely of itself — every man is a piece of the continent – a part of the main.

The words of Dr. King are worth reading. And re-reading. Perhaps one day, “all of God’s children” can join hands – and be “free at last.

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