Today, Monday, January 17, 2022, we honor the great leader and inspiring humanitarian, Martin Luther King, who, as it turns out, had a knack for improvisation . . . and listening! He would have fit in well at the Outpost! So, we wanted to share with you a wonderful piece that came out on CNN in January 2020 that highlights the value of improvisation and listening, just through a different lens …
The One thing about Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatness everyone keeps missing
By John Blake, CNN, Mon January 20, 2020
(CNN) The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was barreling toward the climax of his greatest speech when he made a split-second decision that would seal his place in history. Most people recall what the cameras caught: King declaring “I have a dream!” before 250,000 jubilant supporters at the March on Washington during a muggy, sun-splashed summer day. But there was one crucial exchange that the cameras didn’t catch.
King had planned to cap his speech by exhorting people “to go back to our communities as members of the international association for the advancement of creative dissatisfaction.” Yet he hesitated when he got to that line in the speech because it just didn’t feel right.
And then he heard a voice from behind him. It was the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who was sitting nearby. “Tell them about the dream, Martin! Tell them about the dream,” she shouted.
We know what happened next. King launched into his classic, “I have a Dream” closing. That ad-libbed moment is often cited by historians as an example of King’s improvisatory genius as an orator. But it also reveals something else about King’s genius: His ability to listen.
Calling King a great listener isn’t the typical praise that people shower on him as the country celebrates the holiday in his honor. Instead, commentators invoke images of King as a solitary hero behind a podium, delivering speech after speech that changed history. Yet many of the most pivotal moments in King’s life weren’t planned. They only came after he listened to the prodding and encouragement of others . . .