The eulogy of Dr. King

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

MayscoverA new book by a KU faculty member chronicles the life of the man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called his “spiritual and intellectual father.”

KU faculty member and author Randal Jelks discussed his new book, “Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography,” for members of the KU Black Alumni Chapter in Washington D.C. on Nov. 27. An excerpt from the book can be viewed online and was recently promoted by the Department of American Studies on Twitter (@AmericanStuKU).

In the excerpt, Jelks provides details about close relationship between Elijah Mays and Dr. King. He writes:

According to Coretta Scott King, Mays came to visit her the night of her husband’s assassination. She told him, “You know, Dr. Mays, Martin always said he wanted you to do his eulogy.” To which Mays replied, “I always wanted him to preach mine.”

Jelks continues to describe the challenging task Mays had in speaking that hot day, while juggling his own emotions and the need to calm the agitated crowd.

His eulogy was brilliant. With his impassioned words, he prodded blacks to turn their collective grief and outrage into hope for the future. The reality of the matter was that King was dead, and from that moment, the intellectual landscape that governed the civil rights movement, which Mays had powerfully influenced, would be changed.

Read more from Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography or purchase the book here.

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