Today is Martin Luther King Day, and here at The Narrator it is a day of remembrance, reflection, and celebration. It is our one year anniversary, and we are thrilled to have 51 weeks of thoughtful and hopefully inspiring pieces written by NY Writers Coalition leaders and our allies out there in the blogosphere. Since the inaugural post, a dedicated editorial staff, including Derek Loosvelt, Rose Gorman, Kesha Young and Cait Weiss, as well as an incredibly talented bunch of contributors, demonstrated a serious commitment to nurturing creativity and raising social awareness. Whether it called out a popular television series for its lack of racial diversity or shared the poignant stories of LGBT writers and activists on National Coming Out Day, The Narrator showed who we were and how we felt about art, literature, political issues, and popular culture. And on Mondays, when we featured a new original prompt, The Narrator helped us write.
This Monday’s writing prompt is MLK-inspired and comes from his “Beyond Viet Nam” speech given at the Riverside Church in NYC on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination. As with all of MLK’s speeches you will do yourself a massive favor if you read this in its entirety. It is a powerful indictment of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In order to justify being an advocate for peace as well as a civil rights activist engaged in protests, Dr. King quotes from the Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.”
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!
The poem by Hughes addresses the unfulfilled promise of the American dream for immigrants and slaves. Today , as we celebrate as a nation the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. , and Barack Obama, our nation’s first African American president, takes the oath of office and is sworn in for a second term, I can’t help but feel the enormous power of these last two lines.
The prompt: Write an oath, for you or your character. It can be as brief, or as lengthy, as you (or the character) would like. Or, you can write a scene in which a character is taking an oath.
Happy MLK day to everyone!