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Before the Sermon

On 26 February 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon at the Temple of Israel in Hollywood, CA.  Dr. King preached on the lessons one can learn from Biblical account of the Israeli exodus from Egypt.  He called the obstacles the Israelis had to overcome Mountains.  He explained that America and Americans also had mountains to overcome. “And now it is time for us to move on to that great and noble realm of justice and brotherhood. That is the great struggle taking place in our nation today. It isn’t a struggle just based on a lot of noise; it is a struggle to save the soul of our nation for no nation can rise to its full moral maturity so long as it subjects a segment of its citizenry on the basis of race or color.  His words ring true today.   The struggle for justice and brotherhood continues and it has expanded beyond the sphere of race to include gender and socio-economic status as well. Dr. King also emphasized that surmounting the mountains confronting the America of his day [and ours] would be difficult and dangerous. He averred that “Some of us will have to get scarred up a bit.” This is the inspiration for this poem. I dedicate it to the heroes who have fallen and those who have yet to rise. Arise Citizens – some of us will have to get scarred.


It is not a problem of America’s Blacks.

Nor of those living on the wrong side of the tracks

To achieve a solution, will be truly hard

Some of us surely will have to get scarred.

If we are, what we once hoped we were

Then, we must demand equality for him and for her

We have to speak up; we must take a stand.

And cry out for justice all over this land.

We all are not rich and we all are not poor

But we all can unite, and our futures secure.

The hate and the force have gone on long enough.

It is time to bravely insist on an end to this stuff.

For this is the cause of the many, not of the few

For males and females of every skin hue

It’s not the cause of the Blacks or the cause of the Whites.

But of every American who values full civil rights.

Bigotry and injustice must finally be gone

The cause of the people must keep marching on.

It just doesn’t matter how poor or how wealthy we are.

If we have the courage to risk and be proud of a scar

A scar earned battling for this nation’s true creed

That first and foremost it is unity we need

No matter how powerful our armies may be

None can long thrive with millions plunging into real poverty.

In the face of the dangers and hardships we see

It might seem a long wait for the Day of Jubilee

But we must do the work and the price we must pay

Deep in my heart, “we shall overcome” I fervently say

© 2012, Larry Conley. All rights reserved.

Larry Conley (36 Posts)

I am a veteran of the U. S. Army. My good fortune is to be married to a wonderful woman and have two remarkable twin sons who are making their way in the world. I taught civics in a Pittsburgh area middle school. I am a cat and dog lover.


  1. Nice one! Beautiful presentation of the writing as well no doubt. I do feel that we Americans are a bit soft and have to learn than indeed we have to go through some pains and sacrifices in order to stand up for what’s right. There’s been and is such complacency it really blows my mind sometimes.

    Excellent morning coffee reading here Larry, great post.


    • LarryConley (Author)


      You caught my drift! If we shrink from standing up and speaking out because we may be scarred or otherwise discomforted, we cede the near and longer-term future to those who seek to plunder America and all ordinary Americans.

      As Combferre asked, so should we:

      “Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?
      Beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?”

      Let us give all we can give and stand up and take a chance! Arise citizens!

  2. “The struggle for justice and brotherhood continues and it has expanded beyond the sphere of race to include gender and socio-economic status as well.” Larry, this sentence is an absolute truth. Your poem was a beautiful homage to Dr. King’s legacy.

    • LarryConley (Author)

      Thanks Cher!

      I was also seeking to give a bit of ongoing momentum to the quest for justice and unity raging today. As I read over the Sermon, it struck me how applicable those words from almost fifty years ago were to what we face today.

      The road goes ever on and on and the struggle never truly ends.

      Thanks again!


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