I grew up in Oak Park, and went to Einstein elementary school. If you went there, you knew one of the best things about it was Mrs. Halsey, our school librarian. Mrs. Halsey a great big hug of a woman, warm as sunshine, whose smile made you feel like you mattered. One day when I was in kindergarten she came in very quietly, without a smile, and with tears on her cheeks. What happened, we asked. She said, A man I loved very much died yesterday. Who was so great to make Mrs. Halsey cry? This day was Friday, April 5th, 1968. It was Dr. King who she loved. We cried with her. I wanted to know more about the man who meant so much to her. I learned to love Dr. King, too. I am moved by everything he said, it is his mountain top speech, the last speech he ever gave, that I listen to at least once a year, and I cry each time.
This is from the end of that speech:
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!
And 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!!
This is the main lesson I learned from Dr. King. We have to have the courage to do what is good and right in the eyes of the lord, even when we are afraid, especially when we are afraid. He taught us that we should work everyday to fulfill the promise of a just and peaceful world, even if that promise is not fulfilled in our life time. He taught us to live the torah’s words, Vahavta, You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your might. Not someone else’s. Yours. Because of that, He did not just see the glory of the coming of the Lord. He brought the glory of the lord. He was the glory of the lord.
May we live with courage and determination and faith, and we always be worthy of the love that Mrs. Halsey had for Dr. King.