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Standing Tall

by Jamie McKenzie

Click here for a reading by Jamie on YouTube

In honor of Martin Luther King


    Some kings rule their kingdoms sitting down
    Surrounded by luxury, soft cushions and fans
    But this King stood strong
    stood proud
    stood tall

    When the driver told Rosa
    "Move to the back of the bus!"
    When the waiter told students
    "We don't serve your kind!"
    When the Mayor told voters
    "Your vote don't count!"
    And when the sheriff told marchers
    "Get off our streets!"
    using fire hoses, police dogs and cattle prods
    to move them along
    This King stood strong
    stood proud
    stood tall
    Speaking of peace
    of love
    and children
    hand in hand
    free at last
    free at last

    When some yelled for violence
    For angry revenge
    An eye for an eye
    And a tooth for a tooth
    He stood his ground
    Preaching peace

    And when some spit out hate
    He stood there smiling
    Spreading love
    Until it rolled like the sea across the land
    Sweeping away Jim Crow
    Breaking down the walls
    Ringing the bell
    For Freedom

    Standing on the mountain top
    They shot him
    Hoping to see him fall
    Hoping to put him away
    To bring him low

    But this King
    even in death
    even today
    stands strong
    stands proud
    stands tall
    And we remember

by Jamie McKenzie

© 1982, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved.
This poem may be printed and shared by schools
without special permission and may be sent electronically
from individuals to other individuals. All other forms of
duplication, publishing and distribution require explicit
permission from the author.

The above images are from the sculpture garden outside the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. They also appear in the article "Images Can Make Powerful Slam Dunk Digital Lessons" - permission was granted for their use by the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Department.

Other Resources

The Seattle Times Martin Luther King Page

Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Martin Luther King Center at Stanford University.

The Martin Luther King Center

National Civil Rights Museum

Dream Quotations . . .

We've removed the ceiling above our dreams. There are no more impossible dreams.
Jesse Jackson

In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.
Janos Arany

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
Henry David Thoreau

Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.
Dr. Dale Turner

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

Saddle your dreams afore you ride 'em.
Mary Webb


A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde

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