August 28, 2013 marked the historic 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1963, around 250,000 Americans gathered in Washington, D.C. for a political rally that became a key moment in the struggle for civil rights in the United States.
At Dr. King’s funeral, a tape recording was played of a sermon he had once given in which he talked about the important things that he wanted people to remember about him. Part of it went like this:
“If you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell him not to talk too long. Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize – that isn’t important. Tell him not to mention that I have 300 or 400 other awards – that’s not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school. I’d like for somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others.
“I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right and to walk with them. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe the naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.
“And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. 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.”
We should all proclaim that we tried to give our lives in the service of others and we spend our lives loving others and walking with them through the perils of life. We should all say that we tried to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned. We should be all be drum majors for justice, peace and righteousness.
We see abuses and injustices taking place in our midst every day. Our nursing homes ranked second to last in all 50 states in the care we give to our elderly and disabled relatives and friends. I go to nursing homes and see the how some unskilled workers treat patients. I have met with caregivers who have taken parents out of certain nursing home because of apparent abuses.
We are the second to last state in educational standards. Yet, when we come to cutting the budget, we cut educational expenses.
Louisiana ranks No. 1 in gun violence. This past year we made it easier for criminals to get weapons and use them. The more guns, the more people get killed. That keeps our prison population the highest in proportion to any other state. Yes, we are No. 1. No incentive exists to rehabilitate or reduce our prison population since the more prisoners a jail can hold, the more the state reimburses the local sheriff’s office. Longer is better.
We pay a woman in Louisiana 69 cents for the same job that a man gets paid a dollar. That the lowest in the nation. Wages overall have not keep up with inflation so we see a decline in the middle class and inability for them to buy goods and services to keep the economy going.
We have a lot of work to do. We need a few good drum majors!
Posted on Fri, August 30, 2013
by Rev. Wilmer L. Todd