A New Ritual for MLK Day

In a ritual started by the example of a college professor, each year on MLK Day, I take a moment to observe the holiday with two poems.

First, The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Nikki Giovanni

His headstone said
FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST
But death is a slave’s freedom
We seek the freedom of free men
And the construction of a world
Where Martin Luther King could have lived
and preached non-violence

Then I listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s adaptation of Sonia Sanchez’s Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King (which is an artistic tour de force worth listening to on any day).

Although they express a longing for what could or should have been, how things might have turned out differently had history taken a different course – both pieces also speak of a conviction of a better future. But it is a hope for someday.

I’m not saying everything has been put right – far from it – nor that these works are no longer relevant.  But on the eve of this US Presidential Inauguration, I’m thinking I need some new poetry.

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