Words Matter: In Memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m corresponding with six different out-of-state buyers right now.

90% of the time, my communication is by email.

I’m teaching a class the next three days, and a focal point of this is building a permission asset. The best way to build a permission asset is through high-quality communication.

Email is rarely a high quality form of communication.

Over the phone is okay.

Face-to-face still has no equal.

I was moved today listening to NPR’s Fresh Air as they interviewed a biographer of Martin Luther King, Jr. He had some sadness that all we ever see in this historical archive of the March on Washington is “steely black and white footage”. There is no color imagery of the event. There is no green grass. There is no rich pageant of participant’s clothing. There is no contract between the Memorial’s whiteness and the reflecting pool’s blueness.

But there is Dr. King.

Dr. King was a poet, but poetry looses it’s magic to propel and change when read quietly in the mind. It only comes alive when spoken aloud.

Here is some of the text of that speech:

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

They’re lovely words.

But spoken face to face, seen in the flesh, seen live… they are words of transformation and liberation.

It’s part of the reason why I believe King is such an indelible American. He was characterized by three things: his speeches; his marches; his imprisonment. The contract between his physical attachment to his message and our modern hiding behind technology as a medium for communication I hope is a lesson not lost on future generations. I’m a bit of a hypocrite to write this, but I don’t think Dr. King would have blogged or SEO’ed. He did the most important work of his generation. Important work requires the highest level of transparency to achieve the highest level of communication. The highest level of communication, then as well as now, takes guts.

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