King made several trips from Boston to Montgomery before moving permanently in September 1954. For one such trip, he preached from this handwritten outline.1 King calls on his new congregation to consider Pontius Pilate, who acquiesced to the crowds and sentenced Jesus to death. He criticizes conformity: “Many white people are against many of the practices of their group, but they are afraid to take a stand.”2 The following outline was compiled from fragments found in two different sermon folders.3
“They are slaves who fear to speak,
for the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves who will not choose,
Hatred, scoffing and abuse,
Rather than in silence shrink,
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves who dare not be,
In the right with two or three”4
The great progressive moves of history have been mined by the purpetuity of “Pilateness”12
Conclusion—Who has been the most influential character in history Jesus or Pilate Who is it that has been the most influential character of human history—Jesus or Pilate? Who is it that was able to change a Simon of sand into a Peter of Rock.13 Who is it that was able to change a persecuting Peter into a Apostle Paul—Jesus or Pilate?14 Who is it that has been able to split history into A.D. and B.C.—Jesus or Pilate? Who is it that so captivated the soul of man that they shook the hinges from the gates of the Roman empire—Jesus or Pilate? Who is that gave impetus to a movement that has grown from a group of eleven men to more than 600,000,000 followers today—Jesus or Pilate. Who is it whose influence has outlasted the Caesar and whose majestic power has towered above empires—Jesus or Pilate? Who is it that has given a message so universal and international that choirs the world ove can sing In Christ there is no East nor West—Jesus or Pilate?15 Who is it that has so convinced men that his message is eternal and lasting that they have cry out with Handel of oll Halululia, Halulia16
Preached at Dexter May, 195417
1. King's announced 7 September 1952 sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church was also titled “Mental and Spiritual Slavery” (“Rev. King, Jr. Will Deliver Last Summer Sermon Sun,” Atlanta Daily World, 6 September 1952).
2. King reworked this theme for a sermon titled “Transformed Nonconformist” (November 1954, pp. 195-198 in this volume, and “Transformed Nonconformist,” Strength to Love, pp. 8-15).
3. This document's pages were found in two separate folders in King's sermon file. The first two pages were stored in the folder titled “Mental Slavery.” The last four pages were filed in an untitled folder (Sermon File Inventory, pp. 609 and 621 in this volume).
4. James Russell Lowell, “Stanzas on Freedom” (1892).
5. Cf. Mark 15:15. Pontius Pilate, who ordered Jesus' execution, was the fifth Roman governor of Judea and ruled for a decade (26-37 CE).
6. The remainder of this document was filed in a separate folder.
7. King maybe referring to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance (1841): “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.”
8. Harry Emerson Fosdick, “Facing the Challenge of Change,” in The Hope of the World (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1933), p. 112: “Dr. Seelye Bixler, of Harvard University, has lately made some shrewd comments on our new psychological talk about the well-adjusted life.” Julius Seelye Bixler was a professor of theology at Harvard University from 1933 until 1942 and served as president of Colby College from 1942 until 1960.
9. King probably refers to Paul's words in Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” He also used this text as the basis for the November 1954 version of “Transformed Nonconformist” and the version that was submitted for publication in Strength to Love (see King, “Transformed Nonconformist,” November 1954, and King, Draft of Chapter II, “Transformed Nonconformist,” July 1962-March 1963, pp. 195-198 and 466-476 in this volume, respectively). See also Chart 1 (p. 16), which compares King's explication of this biblical text in this document with passages in his several versions of “Transformed Nonconformist.”
10. “And so the christian is called upon not to be like a thermometer conforming to the temperature of his society, but he must be like a thermostat serving to transform the temperature of his society” (King, “Transformed Nonconformist,” November 1954, p. 196 in this volume).
11. Cf. John 18:38 and 19:4, 6.
12. King added this sentence in a second pen.
13. Cf. John 1:42.
14. Cf. Acts 9:1-28.
15. King cites John Oxenham's hymn “In Christ There Is No East or West” (1908).
16. King cites the “Hallelujah Chorus” in George Frideric Handel's oratorio Messiah (1741).
17. King added this sentence in a second pen.
CSKC-INP, Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands, folder 113, “Mental Slavery”; and Sermon file, folder 124.