“Numbers Fit for a King”: A Poem by Paul Redwood

Originally composed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Paul Redwood shared “Numbers Fit for a King” with Pacifica as we celebrate Black History Month. 

“Numbers Fit for a King”

By Paul Redwood


These are the numbers that are fit for a king,

These are the reasons we celebrate & sing.


In 1968 while King’s spilled blood was fresh we as a nation bitterly wept,

With salt running down our cheeks, more FBI files were redacted & kept.


He did not live to be an honest to goodness old man, for he died at the tender age of a 39 year old young man.


He solemnly marched over 25 times a year with the distraught and the downtrodden and made a way of justice towards a brighter dawn and a fairer day.


When we peer through the psychological lens of life,

he grappled not with feelings of supremacy,

but with countless feelings of inadequacy

as black lives were marginalized in a segregated society.


He sacrificially submitted himself for lawful arrest,

to the tune of 29 times over 13 long years of protest.


At the age of 15 he became really cool, 

for he skipped 2 grades in high school.


He matriculated at Morehouse at 15,

and navigated his way to graduate at 19.


He was married to Coretta and for 15 years they made nothing but highlights,

He raised 4 children while raising awareness of worldwide Civil Rights.


He set precedents as the ultimate pro bono expert since he dished out a word of advice to 4 Presidents.

Not once did he send them an invoice for the wisdom that came from his voice.


He changed his name from

Michael (which means “Who is like God?”)

to Martin (which means “warlike”).

What great irony for the master of nonviolence to take on a name with a hint of violence.


At the tender age of 35 he gave us a big surprise,

he became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.


He marched over 3,000 miles in peaceful protests and wore out over a dozen shoes,

He showed we must choose to walk in another person’s shoes, to experience their civil rights blues.


Like us, he was no goody two shoes for the FBI tracked him and recorded every mistake,

but God did not forsake him, but instead forgave him.


He never got a driver’s license because he had a phobia of driving,

yet he was given license by God to drive the global agenda of freedom.


He followed the example of Apostle Paul

and wrote dozens of letters from jail before he received bail.


With The letter from Birmingham,

He became like Abraham:

A Father for Freedom among the nations.


His life was not all peaches for he had his share of leeches,

He gave about 400 sermons and 2100 speeches.


They were never stump speeches nor hate speeches, but inspiring & empowering speeches of freedom that resonated within the heart for many to take heart.


He played a hand in plenty of pieces of legislation, and a big hand in 3 landmark laws for Fair Housing, Civil Rights, and Voting Rights.


He was a well-traveled man because every time he would dwell in a jail cell,

it came with a different street address.


He was constantly under threat for he received tens of thousands of death threats.

He lived for a total of 14,265 days so that’s basically a death threat every day.


He said “Injustice anywhere

is a threat to justice everywhere,”

as he inspired hundreds of nations to be advocates of just citations.


The number of streets named after this man of the street are over a thousand.

The number of lives he changed are far too many to count,

How can we count the many millions that were down for the freedom count?


Paul Redwood is an experienced board member & industry technology leader well-versed in the art of policy-setting, governance, & strategic direction for Fortune 500 corporations. His tenure as Chairman of the Organization of Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) showcased his ability to influence technology policy and drive change at a strategic level. He is currently the Managing Director for Redwood Design Engineering LLC. He earned his Masters degree in Engineering from NJIT and his Bachelors from Hofstra university.


Paul has been married for 37 years to his wife Rosemary, who is a Speech Therapist. He has two daughters, Racquel and Roxanne, who are both engineers. His interests include reading, walking and finding whatever excuse he can to enjoy a round of golf. He looks forward to publishing his first book this year. 


Motivational Credit for this poem goes to his  senior pastor, Dr. Philip Bonaparte, of New Hope church, who called on Paul to present a poem on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to about 300 people and he didn’t have one. This was a kick in the pants for him to cobble the numbers together and complete the poem about 3 hours later.