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There have always been mothers who could see the vision... who didn’t know the difference between ‘you does’ and ‘you don’t,’ but who wanted their offspring to ‘get it all’… Mothers not only ought to be praised for their greatness, but for keeping on.

No matter what this job is, you must decide to do it well. Do it so well that the living, the dead, or the unborn (Yes) can’t do it better. (Yeah) If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Raphael painted pictures; sweep streets like Michelangelo carved marble; sweep streets like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: “Here lived a great street sweeper (All right), who swept his job well.” (Oh yes)

If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a shrub in the valley (Well)but be
The best shrub on the side of the hill.

And I believe these two passages of scripture apply more uniquely to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi than to any other individual in the history of the world. For here was a man who was not a Christian in terms of being a member of the Christian church but who was a Christian. And it is one of the strange ironies of the modern world that the greatest Christian of the twentieth century was not a member of the Christian church. And the second thing is, that this man took the message of Jesus Christ and was able to do even greater works than Jesus did in his lifetime. Jesus himself predicted this: “Ye shall do even greater works."

 I must admit that in many instances I have felt terribly frustrated over my inability to retreat, concentrate, and reflect. My whole life seems to be centered around giving something out and only rarely taking something in. One of my reasons for moving to Atlanta was to meet this problem head on. I felt that by coming here I would have more time to meditate and think through the total struggle ahead. Unfortunately, however, things have happened as you know which have made my schedule more crowded in Atlanta than it was in Montgomery. I have also tried to deal with the problem in another way. After returning from India I decided that I would take one day a week as a day of silence and meditation. This, I attempted on several occasions, but things began to pile up so much that I found myself using that particular day as a time to catch up on so many things that had accumulated. And so in a real sense I am in about the same position now as I was two or three years ago. But I know that I cannot continue to go at this pace, and live with such a tension filled schedule. My failure to reflect will do harm not only to me as a person, but to the total movement. For that reason I feel a moral obligation to do it.

These noble people for whom I accept these honors are the real heroes of the freedom struggle. Many of them are young and cultured; others are middle-aged and middle class; they include both white people and Negroes. The majority are poor and untutored. All, however, are united in the firm conviction that segregation is evil and that they will not stop until total freedom is won.

—Acceptance Address, 17 December 1964.

I don’t know this morning about you, but I can make a testimony. You don’t need to go out this morning saying that Martin Luther King is a saint. Oh, no. I want you to know this morning that I’m a sinner like all of God’s children. But I want to be a good man. And I want to hear a voice saying to me one day, "I take you in and I bless you, because you try."


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