During the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled over six million miles and delivered over twenty-five hundred speeches. His “I Have A Dream” address, delivered on August 28,1963 is arguably one of the most popular speeches in American history. However, on February 4, 1968, just two months before Dr. King’s assassination, he delivered a sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. entitled “The Drum Major Instinct”. Although less popular, “The Drum Major Instinct” may be Dr. King’s most powerful message.
In this oration Dr. King used the metaphor of being a marching band Drum Major, or leader, for positive change. He described the type of eulogy he would like given at his funeral. He emphasized that he was not concerned about anyone mentioning his Nobel Peace Prize, academic background, net worth, or any other personal accolades. Instead, he highlighted the importance of selfless service, striving for peace, and working to ensure justice.
Like most good stories, there was an element of surprise within Dr. King’s Drum Major Instinct message. This instinct is something that Dr. King cautioned us about. It must be channeled and used in a certain way to effectively combat many of the challenges we still face today. Nevertheless, when used responsibly, this instinct is a powerful force for making a difference.
Dr. King’s dream painted a vision of the future. His drum major instinct, used with awareness, provided a blueprint on making that vision a reality. As we celebrate Black History Month and continue to build on the historic contributions of African American champions, let’s explore more of the addresses that inspired you. Maybe it’s being slept on and we could use it today to propel us into tomorrow. Share with us in the comments below or at DMEmpowermentLLC@gmail.com.
Drum Major Instinct
I Have A Dream