The post offices were closed on Monday—I was glad. The government offices were closed on Monday—I was glad. The schools were closed on Monday—I was glad. It was really cold Monday—mid-20’s. I wasn’t particularly glad about that, but it didn’t stop me from joining hundreds of others in downtown Franklin in a walk down Main Street to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What made me most glad on Monday? The walkers were of all races and many were from my home church. To repeat the words of Correta Scott King, it wasn’t a black holiday, it was a “people’s holiday.”
The turbulent 60’s were high school and college years for me. I remember the marches. I remember the cross burnings and lynchings. I remember sit-ins, Rosa Parks and water cannons. I remember Selma, Birmingham and Medgar Evers. I remember working with black laborers who were paid only $1.25 per hour to dig sewer ditches. And, I remember Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the great leaders of the 20th century. If I were an African-American, I would probably say he was the greatest leader of the 20th century.
When we celebrate July 4th, blacks join in, but they remember they were still slaves in 1776. When we celebrate Washington’s birthday, blacks join in, but they remember that he owned slaves. To African Americans, it is Lincoln and MLK, Jr., who led the fight, first for freedom, and then for equality. These two stand alone in black history; there are no rivals to their legacy. They both led with:
The lives of millions were impacted for good by their leadership. Both died young, brought down by an assassin’s bullet. They believed that…
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of us will not have the opportunity to impact millions by our leadership. However, all of us can impact a few: some a handful, some hundreds, and some, thousands. Whatever the size of your sphere of influence, if you want to make a difference, it will likely require some courage, vision, resolve and selflessness. Do that and you will leave footprints that endure long after you’re gone.
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© Copyright 2016 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner