I can’t imagine how difficult Martin Luther King’s life must have been sometimes. His last speech, on April 3, 1968, was amazingly eerie in that he recalled the day about a decade earlier when he was stabbed at a 1958 Harlem book signing and almost did not survive.
“It came out in the New York Times the next morning that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died.
Well, about four days later they allowed me, after the operation, they allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply, Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the Whites Plains High School. She said, while it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”
It is in that same speech in which some contend he foretold his own death:
“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.
“And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
I remember, as well as I remember anything from more than a third of a century ago, what a body blow the news of his death was for me and millions of others.
During a sermon back in February about Martin Luther King Jr., the preacher cited a poem attributed to Mother Teresa called Anyway. I suspect the cadence in which the speaker I saw delivered the message was somewhat different from Teresa’s. The point, though, was that MLK Jr. persevered, even when the road was difficult; he did it…anyway.