Now I want to say though we’ve met on what would have been my 87th birthday may be some place of honor. For this honor I want to thank you, and I must say to you: unless the schools you have named for me teach children how to live as much as how to make a living they will become little more than battlegrounds for the frustrated individuals. Unless the bridges that you have named for me
are bridges of love and understanding, they will fall under the weight of their own construction. Unless the streets and highways that you have named for me lead to growing distance of peace, love, and brotherhood, they will lead to nowhere. Unless those that you have met on occasions like this to honor my life, my work, and my legacy, lest you lead to greater determination to make real the promises of democracy, I must consider it little more than blasphemy.
I may not be esteemed in my death beyond what I was in my life: just a known prophet from Georgia, who saw wrong and tried to right it; Who saw hate and tried to love it; Who saw suffering and tried to heal it; Who saw war and tried to stop it.
I was stoned in Chicago by an angry vicious mob, stabbed by a deranged woman in New York, slapped in the face in Birmingham, jailed 13 times in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida, finally assassinated as I talked to friends on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis. But through it all….
Naming the Quitman 10: Angela Bryant. April Proctor, Elizabeth Thomas, Kechia Harrison, Latashia Head, Linda Troutman, Lula Smart, Nancy Dennard, Robert Dennard, and Sandra Cody.
The place was packed.