Installed in 1984, this niche statue of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recalls his last Sunday sermon preached before his death, on March 31, 1968, at the Cathedral.
Dr. King (1929-68) was born in Atlanta, Ga., the son of the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He graduated from Morehouse College and Crozer Theological Seminary. He obtained a Ph.D. degree from Boston University in 1955.
Combining the ideas of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and Henry Thoreau, he formed a non-violent philosophy of “extremism for love” in order to fight injustice. Together with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was involved in demonstrations in Alabama in Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery; Washington, DC; and Chicago, Ill.
Dr. King was instrumental in changing public opinion on civil rights, resulting in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for which he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. This outstanding Christian championed African Americans but also less fortunate members of society regardless of race. He was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968.
“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?,” Dr. King preached in his last Sunday sermon.
“There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right. I believe today that there is a need for all people of goodwill to come with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “We ain’t goin’ study war no more.” This is the challenge facing modern man.”