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I'm Going To: Procrastination

King, Martin Luther, Jr.
January 1, 1959 to December 31, 1959
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Career in Ministry


In this handwritten sermon outline, King advises against waiting to do the right thing.1

Ananius the High Priest

  1. This text reveals the tragic gulf between knowlege of what is right and the doing of what is right.3
    1. Quote Socrates4
  2. Felix failed to see the power and decisiveness of habit
  3. Another point that we must see here is indecision is at bottom decision. We cannot remain undecided. Felix forget the most pertinacious facts in life, that while a man may hold his opinions in suspense he cannot hold his living in suspense. We may not succeed in making up our minds, but we cant help making up our lives. Life cannot be reduced to a pure science. Pure science does well in keeping itself tentative, open minded uncommitted
    1. define decision
    2. Life does hold up (Smoking, Wheat
  4. Felix failed to see that there is such a thing as a lost opportunity
    1. Time runs out
    2. The fact of Death—Kings die
      1. Civilizations—[Arnold] Toynbee
        Americas danger—Triplet (racism, nationalism militarism)
      1. The Bible tells the story
        1. The Lost Sheep5
        2. The man who was a fool6
        3. Dives7
      2. Personal experience
        1. Russel Roberts8
        2. Lillian Smith9

1. King penned this outline on the verso of deacon Thomas H. Randall's August 1959 report on his rounds as Dexter's church visitor (Randall to King, August 1959). On the folder containing this document, King wrote “I'm Going to Procrastination,” and, on the top of the document, King wrote, “I Going To.”

2. According to Acts 24:1-8, the Jewish high priest Ananias and the orator Tertullus brought charges of sedition against Paul before Felix, the Roman procurator who oversaw the region of Judah.

3. Cf. Acts 24:24-27.

4. King may be citing a paraphrase of a speech by Socrates found in Plato's Apology 38a: “The unexamined life is not worth living” (Plato, Apology, trans. B. Jowett, in Plato [New York: Walter J. Black, 1942], p. 56).

5. Luke 15:3-7.

6. Luke 12: 16-21. King developed a sermon with this title (King, The Man Who Was a Fool, 6 March 1961, pp. 411-419 in this volume; King, Strength to Love, pp. 51-57) .

7. King refers to the parable of Dives and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19-31. He had developed a sermon on this topic (see King, “The Impassable Gulf [The Parable of Dives and Lazarus],” Sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, 2 October 1955, pp. 235-239 in this volume).

8. Russell A. Roberts served as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Atlantic City, N.J. and conducted a public fast in support of the Montgomery bus boycott (“Fasting and Praying,” Pittsburgh Courier, 24 March 1956).

9. Lillian Smith was a Southern white writer whose controversial 1944 novel Strange Fruit featured an interracial relationship. For more on King's personal relationship with Smith, see Smith to King, 10 March 1956, in Papers 3:168, and note 1, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to King, 24 October 1960, in Papers 5:528.


CSKC-INP, Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands, Sermon file, folder 83, "I'm Going To Procrastination."