We’re here to honor a person.
Fifty-four years ago, her about-to-be husband said that he was looking for a woman with character, 1)intelligence, personality and beauty, and she sure fit the bill. And I have to say, when she was over 75, I thought she still fit the bill pretty good with all those categories.
But I think that’s important: this is a woman, as well as a symbol, as well as the2)embodiment of her husband’s 3)legacy and the developer of her own.
The second point I want to make is the most important day in her life for everyone of us here at this moment in this church except when she 4)embraced her faith, the next most important day was April 5, 1968, the day after her husband was killed. She had to decide, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
We would have all forgiven her, even honored her if she said, “I have 5)stumbled on enough stony roads. I have been beaten by enough bitter rods. I have 6)endured enough dangers, toils and 7)snares. I’m going home and raising my kids. I wish you all well.” None of us, nobody could have 8)condemned that decision. But she went to 9)Memphis—the scene of the worst nightmare of her life—and led that march for those poor hard-working garbage workers that her husband...
Now, that’s the most important thing for us. ’Cause what really matters if you believe all this stuff we’ve been saying is, what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives.
So what will happen to the legacy of Martin Luther King and Coretta King? Will it continue to stand for peace and nonviolence and anti-poverty and civil rights and human rights?
The one thing I always admired about Dr. King and about Coretta when I got to know her, especially, is how they embraced causes that were almost surely lost right alongside causes that they knew if they worked at hard enough, they could actually win. They understood that the difficulty of success does not relieve one of the 10)obligation to try. So all of us have to remember that.
What are we going to do with the rest of our lives? You want to treat our friend Coretta like a role model? Then model her behavior.
This is the first day of the rest of our lives.
Everybody who believes that 11)the Promise of America is for every American, everybody who believes that all people in the world are caught up in what he so 12)eloquently called the inescapable web of 13)mutuality, everyone of us in a way are all the children of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. And I for one am grateful for her life and her friendship.