Around midnight on January 27, 1956, Dr. King’s phone rang and when he answered it, he heard a low voice say:
“Nigger, we’re tired of your mess. And if you aren’t out of this town in three days, we’re going to blow up your house and blow your brains out.”
Shaken, he tried to go to sleep, but he couldn’t. His wife and ten-week-old baby girl, Yolanda were already asleep. So, he went to the kitchen and made himself some coffee. And as he sat there, there was something about that voice on the phone that King couldn’t shake, a seriousness that he couldn’t ignore. He had received threats before, but this time, he knew the threat was real.
He started thinking about the life of his baby girl. The life of his wife. His own life. So as the coffee brewed in his darkened kitchen, fear pressed in on him and began to overwhelm him. He didn’t know what his tomorrows might hold, but he knew who held his tomorrows. Dr. King said, he prayed:
“Lord, I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face this alone.”
And at that moment, sitting at his kitchen table, Dr. King had one of the most profound experiences of his spiritual life. In the middle of that darken kitchen, alone and scared, He revealed he heard an inner voice say to him: “Martin Luther, stand up for truth. Stand up for justice. Stand up for righteousness. God will be at your side forever.”
My brothers and sisters, I say unto you: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. So, I ask you to join me in honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he has taught us how to stand in times of challenge and controversy.