MLK’s “The Drum Major Instinct”

Two months before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, he delivered a sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct” in Atlanta, Georgia. His address to the congregation referenced the biblical book of Mark and told the story of a conversation between Jesus and two of his followers. The brothers were asking for certain positions, but they were encouraged to remain focused on service instead.

Dr. King elaborated on the virtues of service and how it relates to great leadership. He acknowledged the inner elements that we may all posses and provided guidance on how to lead with character and humility.

The message concluded with Dr. King imagining his own funeral. He urged the congregation not to focus on his achievements, but to “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”.

Although drum majors are leaders within the marching band context, I do believe that we all possess leadership qualities that can help others. This empowering reminder speaks to the DM in all of us.


Devon Marrett

4 thoughts on “MLK’s “The Drum Major Instinct””

  1. Awesome reminder of what’s important in life. Thanks for all that you continue to do. God bless and keep you.

  2. Great words my brother. I think this would be an awesome talking point for my students. My principal has reached out to me about motivational speaks contacting her to speak to our classes. I think now is an optimal time to make contact.

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