Just days after the third and final march from Selma to Montgomery on March 28, 1965 a tired but persistent Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood before an audience of 5,000 and addressed his sermon to the people of Los Angeles.
Only, King had misspoken: He was at Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco, as he quickly corrected himself, revealing for a moment the fatigue of a man whose work — tireless, but clearly tiring — for the cause of equality and racial justice we recall today.
The Civil Rights leader, assassinated in 1968, would have celebrated his 88th birthday yesterday, and Bay Area residents are observing the federal holiday in his name in all manner of ways. The Chronicle, for example, is one news outlet to recall his speech at Grace Cathedral with footage from the event in which he encourages listeners to achieve their potential.
"If you can't be a highway, just be a trail," says King. "If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are."
Fittingly, two upcoming events in honor of Dr. King, part of a series called "The King & Faith Lectures," will be held at Grace Cathedral this month. The first, "Where Do We Go From Here? - pt. 2" will be held on the 22nd at 4 p.m. and the second, "Where Do We Go From Here? - pt. 3" at 4 p.m. on the 29th.
Today, more than 500 marches converged on Yerba Buena Gardens according to the Examiner after marching from the Caltrain Station in honor of MLK. The march left at 11 a.m., reportedly blocking traffic on Third Street from Channel Street to Yerba Buena Gardens. Supervisor Malia Cohen and others were tweeting from the proceeding at the Yerba Buena Gardens event, whose theme was "Justice in the Beloved Community."
The Gardens are the site of an MLK memorial that opened with them in 1993 as a collaborative project between sculptor Houston Conwill, poet Estella Majoza, and architect Joseph De Pace. Titled "Revelation," the memorial is the second largest to King in the US, sitting behind the 50-by-20-foot waterfall, and a path takes visitors past quotes from King's speeches etched into 12 glass panels.
In other local events, tonight at the Nourse Theater marks the 20th annual Bringing the Noise for Dr. King event, a Youth Speaks showcase of young poets and writers. That's at 7p.m. and is sold out. The Museum of the African Diaspora is free to enter today, as is the SFJAZZ Center, which is offering an Open House with tours including concerts, the last of which is at 5 to 7 p.m.
And, of course, as the day is a federal holiday, entrance to national parks is free. 412 national parks, including 27 in California, are waiving their fees in total. If you still have time, you can head to Muir Woods, Yosemite, or the San Francisco Maritime Museum, all of which are free of charge today.
Let's conclude on a quote from King's speech at Grace Cathedral: "Before the victory is won, some of us will get scarred up a bit. Before the victory for brotherhood is won, we will have to face more crowded and frustrated jail cells. Before the victory is won, maybe somebody else will have to face physical death," King ends the sermon. "But a physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children and their white brothers from a permanent death of the spirit. Then nothing can be more redemptive. We shall overcome."Ruth L via Flickr