Martin Luther King, MLK Day, poetry

Seldom Read Poems about MLK, Jr.

MLK, Jr. Memorial Washington, D.C. photo by m. alvardofrazier

Martin Luther King Jr.’s brilliance as an orator is well documented in many books, movies, and over seventy-five quotes.

For my Sunday Share, I specifically looked for poems that described him, his work, and his legacy.

It is documented that the renowned poet Langston Hughes and MLK Jr. were friends for several years.

Examples of their connection are expansive. In 1956, King recited Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son” from the pulpit to honor his wife Coretta, who was celebrating her first Mother’s Day. That same year, Hughes wrote a poem about Dr. King and the 1956 thirteen-month bus boycott titled “Brotherly Love.”

Two other poems left a lasting impression on me:

Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1968

A man went forth with gifts.

He was a prose poem.
He was a tragic grace.
He was a warm music.

He tried to heal the vivid volcanoes.
His ashes are
     reading the world.

His Dream still wishes to anoint
     the barricades of faith and of control.

His word still burns the center of the sun
     above the thousands and the
     hundred thousands.

The word was Justice. It was spoken.

So it shall be spoken.
So it shall be done.
----

Gwendolyn Brooks



Aurielle Lucier takes an intersectional approach to recognize how Dr. King’s values still live on while also challenging America to be better and truly honor his legacy:

The truth buried does not rot, it roots.
The King buried does not die, he blooms.

The five-minute poem performed by Lucier is worth watching for its full effect and understanding.

The White House issued a proclamation for MLK, Jr. Day 2023:

 From the pulpit to the podium to the streets, Dr. King devoted his life to the quest for this Beloved Community in our Nation.  His activism and moral authority helped usher in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

He gave a voice to the restless spirit of millions yearning for change.  He gave us a roadmap to unify, to heal, and to sustain the blessings of the Nation to all of its people.

But the work continues because it remains unfinished.  

Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President of the USA

These poems and the proclamation inspire me to continue the ‘unfinished work’ through my actions, words, and deeds. I hope you are inspired to do the same.

Until next week, a wish for every good thing in your life to come into being.

1 thought on “Seldom Read Poems about MLK, Jr.”

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.