An all-star lineup of performers in New York City gathered at Riverside Church to pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday afternoon (Jan. 18). The #MLKNow event featured, among many others, Michael B. Jordan as Fred Hampton, Andre Holland as Malcolm X and Lin-Manuel Miranda as King himself.
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 18, 2016
Miranda delivered King’s first public anti-war speech “Beyond Vietnam,” at the very same podium in April of 1967. King’s words, all too timely, beat with a pulse that sent chills at many points in the address:
This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.”
The Hamilton star, as eloquent and passionate a speaker he is, gave all the credit to the late Reverend: “Reading MLK aloud is exactly like Shakespeare–no spin on the ball required. Speak loud & clear, & the words do all the work. Such words.” In the end, Miranda described the speech as life-changing and urged his followers to read the entire passage.
Watch a brief snippet, below.