“Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution” was the title of Dr. King’s last Sunday sermon. He, of course, did not know it would be his last. But on March 31, 1968, in Washington to advance his new Poor Peoples’ Campaign, he walked up the steps of the Cathedral’s Canterbury Pulpit, to preach this powerful and provocative sermon. The video’s quality is surprisingly good. The preaching– is transformative. I hope you will take a listen. He begins to preach at the 1:06 point of this video. His sermon lasts forty minutes. Here is the link:
This is not “I Have a Dream.” In the last few years of his life, Dr. King weaves together his critique of racism, militarism, and poverty as the greatest threats to America and to Christians. His tone is somber. He doesn’t ever seem to look at his notes. It is haunting when he refers to coming back to Washington in a few weeks’ time for the Poor Peoples’ Campaign. Four days after this sermon, he will be assassinated in Memphis.
This sermon shows Dr. King as a brilliant, intellectual, activist, man of faith. This sermon reveals a man who is clear-eyed about America and hopeful at the same time. I am grateful that the Washington National Cathedral has made this available to us all.
Photograph: Dr. King at the Canterbury Pulpit, Washington National Cathedral, 3/31/68