Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last sermon on March 31, 1968 at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. In the sermon, “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” he mentioned the technological revolution that was taking the country by storm.
“A technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world,” Dr. King said.
Karsonya Wise Whitehead, associate professor in communication and African and African American Studies at Loyola University in Maryland, said Dr. King’s words are still important today for it reminds us to improve the human condition.
“What’s really interesting about Dr. King’s speech, it’s the exact same speech he gave in 1965 when he gave the commencement address at Oberlin College and he was beginning to lay down this platform talking about the ways that we need to challenge ourselves to be better,” she said.
Dr. King also spoke about how far we have to go to be kind to one another, treat each other well, and help each other, like brothers. “Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood,” he said.
Whitehead said Dr. King’s words effects “two major issues.”
“One is that the internet has become a place where we can be anonymous. So issues that we are not willing to address to people’s faces we are willing to take them up online,” she said. “The other reality, which I think is even more important is looking at the people behind this technology. And this divide that Dr. King is talking about when we apply it to 2016: we look at the real figures of the people who are in charge of technology. There was a huge debate in Silicon Valley for the last year around diversity. So I think it’s important to talk about the ways in which it impacts us both individually and as a community."
Additional production by Praveen Sathianathan.