Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.[…]
We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. … And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Drum Major Instinct,
Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA
Delivered Feburary 4th, 1968
Listen to the Audio Courtesy of Black Media Archive – Episode 11: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of the great sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. titled \”The Drum Major Instinct\”. Delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia on February 4, 1968. (audio file fades out a little early at the end)