Sunday, January 16, 2011


The day Brother Martin was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, April 4, 1968, I myself was in a New York hospital, recovering from hepatitis, just back from Vietnam. I never met Brother Martin, yet I was to know him, beyond the grave as it were, and become the compiler of his Autobiography, some 30 years later.
In 1998, Time Warner, in collaboration with Prof. Claybourne Carson of Stanford University, commissioned, then published the Autobiography. In collaboration with Clay Carson, I compiled thousands upon thousands of documents, listened to tapes, speeches, and snippets, leafed through drafts and re-writes by Coretta Scott King and others of King's speeches, and rifled through love letters and post cards found in Coretta's basement.
I was, if you will, a "ghost writer."
At night, I would hear Brother Martin. By day, I would read Brother Martin.
Later, in life, I would begin to try and live, as he did, so that others might live, and share a better world.
For 18 months or so, I ate, slept, drank breathed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 's speeches.
The words in the Autobiography are ALL Brother Martin's. Prof. Carson edited me, and wove the compilations into the seamless narrative that, in Brother Martin's old words, told the story of his life.
The music video by Common takes all this a step further and speaks, I believe to contemporary audiences. And yet, the original voice recordings and videotapes are still as compelling.
Brother Martin said, "I don't march because I like to march. I march because I must." Pity Brother Martin is not around today, to tackle Haiti.
Where are you Brother Martin? Where are you, to march, to lead us again?

1 comment:

  1. Brother Martin's words, I used to hear them in my sleep...