Monday, January 17, 2011

For Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Poem #292

"Any law that uplifts human personality is just.
Any law that degrades human personality is unjust."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is an important day.

Earlier this week, Carol Rasco from Rasco from RIF tweeted, "Dr. King's letter from the Birmingham Jail and the statement by local clergy prompting the letter."  

I followed Carol's link and through her blog found Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail and the Statement by Alabama Clergymen Directed Against Martin Luther King Jr. I had never read either of these documents before, and if you have not done so, I highly recommend you do.

Students -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter is so strong, so eloquent, and choosing one point was important to me in writing today's poem.  This section inspired me deeply:

"First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.  I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice...Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.  Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

I wanted to write about silence, how choosing silence is as dangerous as choosing evil.  I began writing and very soon, I began to struggle with rhyme.  Entering "silent" into RhymeZone, there was only one rhyme: violent.  I was startled, and I knew that this rhyme would form the foundation of my poem.

Today we can read about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial under construction in Washington DC.  Every day we can live our lives as walking memorials, standing up for good and speaking out for justice.

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. What an amazing poem! It's really pretty amazing that silence is the only word that rhymes with violence. This poem really highlights a very important point. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. Hi, Amy! I did indeed see this link yesterday; about that time the phone rang and oops, I fear I did not get back to you, a new rabbit chase to pursue it was. I was so glad to read your thoughts and your poem as usual was right on the mark...thank you. "Rediscovering" the MLKJr letter has motivated me to re-read a number of pieces by him in the coming months. I have read many of the children's books reflecting on him in recent years but this has helped me remember I need to also be reading HIS words directly.

  3. Great poem. You are correct: silence implies consent. Silence can be dangerous. Thank you for posting!

  4. Enjoyed your poem and saved it to my e-poetry journal! Thanks, Amy.

  5. Thank you, Amy. An excellent poem about the roles we all play in injustice.