Thursday, January 17, 2019

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles was among the last people to speak to Dr. King, visiting him in his motel room to take him to dinner. When they walked out, Dr. King was shot. The night before Rev. King 
had given his mountaintop speech.

In a 2008 interview, Rev. Kyles of Memphis, describes his famous "mountaintop" speech:

"Many of us, grown men, were crying, we had no idea why we were crying. We had no way of knowing that would be the last speech of his life. And then he took us to the mountaintop ..."

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, 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." — the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Kyles says he's "so certain" that King "knew he wouldn't get there, but he wouldn't tell us that. That would have been too heavy for us, so he softened it." 

Afterward, "we had to help him to his seat behind that powerful, prophetic speech," Kyles says. 
"He preached himself through the fear of death," Kyles says. "He just got it out of him. He just dealt with it. And we were just standing there. It was like, what did he know that we didn't know?"
When he speaks to people who were not alive or too young to remember King, Kyle says he tells them, "we're not going to get to the place where we can say, 'Dr. King's dream has been realized. Now we can go to the beach.' That's not going to happen. Much of it has been realized, but there is so much to do. But each generation will have its portion, and that helps to keep the dream alive."

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From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.