King’s speech was a ‘sermon’

Published 7:06 am Monday, January 15, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – It wasn't the physical size of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that gave him an astounding presence.
"It was his character," said Joseph Strotter, who witnessed every one of Dr. King's speeches in Chicago.
Strotter spoke to a crowd this morning at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Niles as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Fellowship Breakfast. He provided a brief biography of Dr. King, recalled how he also had the chance to meet the civil rights leader backstage and joked that at the time he swore to never wash his right hand again.
Visitors to the breakfast had a chance to view part of the historical book and coin collection belonging to Niles resident Louis Stennis and featuring Dr. King and Rosa Parks. Also a part of the morning was a DVD documentary of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, or sermon, as Strotter preferred to call it.
Strotter said he has listened to and watched Dr. King deliver those words many times and refuses to call it a speech.
"It is a sermon," he said.
Strotter acknowledged some people believe certain changes in American would have happened regardless of the work of Dr. King. Some, he said, contend that eventually cities would have been desegregated and voting rights provided to all people.
"Dr. King's detractors would have you believe these things would have happened without him. I don't think so."