Just as Martin Luther King would have wanted, I’m beginning this blog with a plug: Beyond the Credits. Check it out.
So I’m a little more educated on civil rights this particular Martin Luther King Day Jr. than any other. Not because I made an effort to learn more, but because, when I was in Memphis last May, I visited the Civil Rights Museum. While I was there, tornado sirens suddenly went off throughout Memphis, and my group found ourselves confined inside the mini-theater within the museum.
Consequently, while we waited for the sirens to subside, I was forced to watch a Martin Luther King remembrance video three consecutive times on a loop.
Memphis, as you all should know, is the place where King was assassinated. He was staying in the Lorraine Hotel at the time, and yours truly was able to snap a photo of the landmark hotel upon my visit:
Last week, I read a story in the newspaper that said that Memphis officials voted unanimously to rename a nine-block downtown stretch called Linden Ave. to Dr. Martin Luther King Ave. Over 900 cities in the U.S. have streets named after Dr. King, but the one he died in didn’t until recently. Go figure.
What a lot of people don’t know about Martin King is that he actually foresaw his own death. I mean, the dude received bags full of death threats each day, so I guess it’s not that hard, but as always, it’s just the way that he said it.
On April 3, 1968, one day before he was killed, King closed out his final speech as such:
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. 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.
Martin Luther King is easily one of the most iconic men who ever lived, and one of the reasons he was probably able to accomplish so much was his ability to present. To deliver a speech with the utmost eloquence and conviction. The guy could say anything and he could have gained a following.
His “I Have a Dream” speech could have been about a different dream he had, like a giant marshmallow invading the United States and attacking us all, and millions of people still would have come out to hear him, and would have cheered and cried.
I think public speaking is something that has been lost in the “information age” of computers, social media, video games and smart phones.
People think that they are conversing with others throughout the day, but they’re really not. Talking on gchat, or through text messaging, or on somebody’s wall, is not a verbal exchange. You are not honing your articulation skills through these means.
If anything, you’re harming them. We spend so many of our hours talking on a computer screen, that when it comes to actually speaking to others face-to-face, it becomes a challenge. That is why so many kids these days suffer from ADD, social anxiety, and just general awkwardness.
And if you ever want to doubt the importance of public speaking, just think about Martin Luther King. Do you think he would have accomplished as much if he was a scrawny kid who spent all of his time online? Or rather, if he was the black Mark Zuckerberg?
Do you think his speech would have been as influential, or captivated as many people if went like this:
“I have a dream that, uh, you know, one day this, what do you call it, this nation will like, rise up and stuff, and live out the true meaning of its — haha, did you see that squirrel over there? It’s tail looked funny! Oh, wait, where was I? Oh, right, live out the meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. But seriously, did nobody see that squirrel?”
And picture it with a wimpy Jesse Eisenberg-like voice, and not with the sharp, adamant inflection that only MLK could provide.
I know, as a blogger, I shouldn’t rally talk. I myself suffer from a mumbling disorder. But hey, I never said I was trying to change the world.
OR AM I?