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Chapel speaker tells about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral and life after his death

Chapel speaker tells about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral and life after his death
Dr. William Turner speaks at Jan. 22 Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel Service. (CU Photo by Whitley Howlett)

By Holly Jo Evans, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – When Dr. William Turner was a 22-year-old senior at the University of Kentucky and serving as the president of the Black Student Union, he learned of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a civil rights activist and leader.

Turner was the guest speaker at Campbellsville University’s Jan. 22 chapel and told the story of how he had been invited to King’s funeral by some friends in an organization, in which he was affiliated, called Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and he was a marshal in the funeral.

At the funeral he sat with a priest who encouraged him and helped him go to Notre Dame University, where he met his wife.

Turner reminded the audience that people forget that King was hated in the ’60s. “If you compared him to a recent dangerous person, they considered King more dangerous than Osama bin Laden,” he said.

Turner said, “The Martin Luther King Holiday has become nothing more than a sophisticated Groundhog Day.” He said, “Every year people stick their heads up out of their holes, and they burst out into the sunlight of sisterhood and brotherhood and the next day they go back into it, and they do it again the next year.”

Turner quoted a poem that was known to be one of King’s favorites:

“I am tired of sailing my little boat, far inside the harbor bar. I want to go way, way, way out there, way out there where the big ships are, and if by chance my frail craft proves too slight for the winds that blow the billows ore, I would rather drown out there than rest here safely next to the shore.”

He explained the message of the poem, beginning with the harbor. The “harbor bars are man-made structures that serve to tame the natural progression of life,” he said, “…all of us like to stay inside the harbor, it’s very safe in there.”

The little boats in the harbor represent “our lives” and from a “young age we are taught to always sail our little boats inside the harbor bar.” He said we are afraid of what makes us vulnerable all of our lives, but King could care less about that.

He said King was not intimidated by what happened to him outside of the harbor bar; he was a “radical Christian” who was not afraid to sail into the deep waters.

Turner said, “We are all in the same boat, but there are people who would say, ‘It’s leaking on your side of the boat.’” Turner said, “No, it doesn’t just leak on one side of the boat; we are all in this together.”

He asked the audience what their “harbor bar” is, what is their safe place that they are too afraid to sail out of?

He reminded the audience that King sailed into deep water even when other people told him he was going too far. He said King was not afraid to question the government and stand up for what he thought was right.

Turner said most people don’t want to hear the truth; they want to hear something that affirms what they believe.

Turner ended saying he believes King would want to see more of us out there every day doing God’s work. He told the audience to have faith saying, “You can be on the Niagara river headed for the falls, but if you have some faith in God you can get anchored right at the edge of it.”

He repeated the poem once more, pleading the audience to leave the harbor bar of acting out the role of a victim, of complacency and of conformity, and to step out of the safe place they’re living in and do something to make this world a better world.

All chapels are open to the public free of charge and are televised live on WLCU (Comcast Cable channel 10 and digital channel 23.0) and are streamed live on the internet at

For information about chapel, call the Office of Campus Ministries at (270) 789-5227.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 14,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay region.  The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.