Dr. King's Legacy Lives On

April 4, 2018

During a recent interview with the three adult children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his one daughter and two sons were asked if it took the assassination of their father for the impact of his life’s work to truly be appreciated. Sadly, they believed this to be so. Dr. King’s children were 10, 7 and 5 years old when their father’s life was abruptly taken away from them. Sorrowfully, much of the memories they hold of their father would come from the books, speeches and sermons that this iconic man left behind.

 

As a Catholic community, we are blessed to know that through death comes life. Circuitously, just three days ago we celebrated the joy of the Resurrection of the Lord and the life giving font that emerges through Christ's love for us. In a similar way, the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King continues to serve as a beacon of light and hope for all of us. So today as our nation observes the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of MLK Jr., we take comfort that his all too short life continues to stand tall and grounded by the principles of our Christian faith – love for one another as we seek peace, truth and righteousness for all.

 

On this day of great significance, we also celebrate the 90th birthday of Maya Angelou. As such, it is only fitting that on this day we also honor her and the impact she had on the civil rights movement as an activist, an author and a friend and colleague of Dr. King.

 

While reflecting on Maya’s many poems and stories, it is The Caged Bird poem that rings loudly upon the idea of persistence, perseverance and a desire for something better. These themes offer a clear portrayal of the life and legacy of Ms. Angelou’s trusted friend and mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

So today as we honor Dr. King, may we know clearly that God blesses each of us with wings to fly as we delight in the winds of freedom that glides across our backs.

 

The Caged Bird

by Maya Angelou

 

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill 
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom. 

 

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