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Mlk's Drum Major Instinct Essay

810 words - 3 pages

Jordan PhillipsHistory 106K. SmithSeptember 30, 2014PSA #1: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Drum Major Instinct"At this time in history, the year 1968 marked many changes for the United States. It signaled the end of the Kennedy-Johnson presidencies, the end of the civil rights movement, and the beginning of the end of the war in Vietnam. More than that, it meant a change in public attitudes and beliefs. One very familiar prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement was Dr. Martin Luther King whom gave his last sermon entitled "The Drum Major Instinct" which was delivered on Sunday, February 4, 1968, from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia where he is co-pastoring with his father Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. Ironically, King preached this sermon two months before his assassination on April 4, 1968, King encouraged his congregation to seek greatness, but to do so through service and love. King concluded the sermon by imagining his own funeral, downplaying his famous achievements and emphasizing his heart to do right.King's sermon was an adaptation of the 1952 homily ''Drum-Major Instincts'' by J. Wallace Hamilton, a well-known, liberal, white Methodist preacher. Both men tell the biblical story of James and John, who ask Jesus for the most prominent seats in heaven. At the core of their desire was a ''drum major instinct-a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade'' (King, ''The Drum Major,'' 170-171). King warns his congregation that this desire for importance can lead to ''snobbish exclusivism'' and ''tragic race prejudice'': ''Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior … and to feel that their white skin ordained them to be first'' (King, ''The Drum Major,'' 176; 178).Conversely, King preached that when Jesus responded to the request by James and John, he did not rebuke them for their ambition, but taught that greatness comes from humble servitude. As King put it, Jesus ''reordered priorities,'' and told his disciples to ''Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love'' (King, ''The Drum Major,'' 181; 182).King used Jesus' own life as an example of how the priority of love could provide greatness. In his biographical sketch of Jesus, King preached that Jesus...

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