When "Daddy King" Spoke At Harvard

In his book, THE GOOD LIFE, former Chaplain at Harvard Peter Gomes describes what happened when extraordinary individuals were invited to speak to Harvard students. Here’s my summary of his account of the student's reaction to The Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.

"Daddy King came to Harvard to speak in The Memorial Church during Harvard’s annual birthday commemoration of his son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here he was in front of a church filled to capacity, the father of the “father” of the civil rights movement, large in voice and frame. Up in years, he had borne the burdens of one son assassinated, another son dead by an untimely accident, and his wife murdered before his eyes by a deranged gunman.

As he recited terrible things that had happened to him, he would say after each one, “but I have no bitterness in my heart.” He spoke passionately of love and forgiveness available through Christ—as if he were speaking it and the audience were hearing it for the first time. This was not a simple “forgive and forget” gesture, for how could a merely rational man do either?

Daddy King asserted that there is more to bad times than bad times: there is hope in Christ. And the students heard him gladly."

In one of his last speeches, Daddy King's son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., also referred to that hope:

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving,

you lose that courage to be,

that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.

And so today,