Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

His Own Eulogy

--by Martin Luther King Jr. (Sep 03, 2001)

Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimized with what is life's final common denominator--that something we call death.

We all think about it and every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don't think about it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself what it is that I would want said and I leave the word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy tell him not to talk too long.  Every now and then I wonder what I want him to say.

Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize--that isn't important. Tell not to mention that have 300 or 400 other awards--that's not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school.

I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe the naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.
And all of the other shallow things will not matter.

I won't have any money to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that is all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a well song, if I can show somebody he's traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr. (at the request of his widow, these recorded words of Dr. King's last sermon were played at his funeral)

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13 Previous Reflections:

On Apr 20, 2018 kaka wrote:


On Oct 22, 2017 Frances L Moore wrote:


On Jun 28, 2017 Colleen Thomas White wrote:

 Martin preached his funeral, at his appointed time. God directed his path, his action his every good work. When he took on God's vision to slowly bring mankind out of the troubled days , post past slavery ninety  seventy years after jubilee.  It was appointed to him decades before his creation, to take those entrapped in the bitter past tense of oppression,, into the new multicultural society we presently live in. God always send his people away out of bondage, and  true leaders. It's not important  how long they live, but that God's service was magnified through his chosen earthly journey. We to must find our purpose, and build on the many models of peace and prosperity that was meant to be spread equally,  "SIT DOWN SERVANT, AND REST A LITTLE WHILE"   

On Jan 18, 2016 Nicki Dayley wrote:

 Just beautiful...this is all that one could hope to do in life. Martin Luther King has been an inspiration to me in my whole life!

On Jan 18, 2016 Andrea Folkes wrote:

 This is deep but real...Dr. King did not feel that what he did on this earth should be compare to that of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is certainly food for thought!!

On Nov 26, 2014 mick wrote:

 this transcript does not include Dr. King final sentences.  It concludes as follows: "if I can do my duty as a Christian.  If I can bring salvation to a world once robbed.  If I can spread the message as the Master taught, then my living will not be in vain.  

Yes, Jesus, I want to be on your right or your left side, not for any selfish reasons.  I want to be on you right or on your left side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition.  I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others so that we can make of this old world a new world."

The full audio of the sermon can be found at 

1 reply: Chris | Post Your Reply
On Jun 24, 2008 Adam wrote:
Truly, this man was after God's own heart.

On Apr 4, 2008 my husband wrote:
this man was a "real" christian honey

On Apr 4, 2008 donna wrote:
an awesome speech

On Apr 4, 2008 fran wrote:
this speech will bring you to tears

2 replies: Cheryl, Cheryl | Post Your Reply