A Fire No Water Could Put Out

His voice could always make her cry, that deep baritone that vibrated between his declarations. He always seemed so slow and patient with his words, as though he considered each syllable before it rang out of his mouth dripping with inspiration. His words were power, and he seemed so thoughtful about how he used them.

Her favorite is the Mountaintop speech. She can hear the line in her head, the force of his conviction. It was a kind of reassurance, in a way. He may not get there with us, but he knew it existed, even amidst all the turmoil and pain.

She loved him before she really knew who he was, a third grader standing in a teacher supply store gazing at a wall full of colorful posters. Mom let her get a couple, and she chose the one of him standing in front of a sea of people, white marble monuments in the background.

When she was older, she saw The Meeting and got lost in the fervor of the actors, the mind boggling conversations between he and Malcolm. He was a different kind of revolutionary, steady and calm like a black lake on a quiet night.

She envied the people who met him, lived in his time, got to hear his speeches in person instead of as recordings scratching through speakers. When his monument was completed, she stood in the yellow sun starring up at his massive etched statue. She swallowed the words chiseled into the white marble wall all around him and thought about mountaintops and promise lands.

 

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”  –Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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