Dr. King writes to the church today

I have made some pretty awful attempts today at writing about Martin Luther King, Jr. I annually reflect on Letters from a Birmingham Jail on this weekend. I have a really long post I pounded out as I reflected not only on Dr. King’s words but the events of this week concerning immigration. That didn’t go well.  Continue reading “Dr. King writes to the church today”

Martin Luther King Day

I have probably posted this in the past, but I read it every year to remind myself of how far I, personally, have NOT come in my own life. (HERE for Dr. King’s letter)

Over the past few years I have been deeply grateful for friends who have guided me to places that have convinced me of the systemic racism we STILL deal with in this country. I am grateful for being around people who work HARD to fight uphill battles and we see some amazing things happen, but it does not take away from the fact we still have a long way to go.

Three reads we need in our lives to start as white people (in my opinion). First, Dr. King’s letter from a Birmingham jail. (Linked above)

Second, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This isn’t a book that is based on emotion, but on statistics and real ife situations. Since I read that book there have been some fixes in laws that make more sense, but, again, there is still a long way to go.

Third, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. I ran across this one last year and again was deeply impacted by the story. Wilkerson does a study on the 100 year migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West through statistics and story.

When I read Dr. King’s words in the letter, though, I feel his impatience with me. It is a feeling I am sure he would have if he were alive today and talking to me. His words need to stir our hearts again. His words need to stir our ACTIONS again.

Our nation was nearly 100 years old before we finally ended slavery, but it took a war. It was then ANOTHER 100 years to solidify what SHOULD have been understood as a result from the Civil War: African Americans had the right to VOTE!

Let it not be another 100 years in our country for new action. Let it not be a war that precipitates that action. Let it be a move of the Spirit of God that convicts hearts of attitudes and feelings and stirs us to repentance and THEN justice can roll down with immense authority. Lord… change our hearts as only YOU can do.

Remembering Dr. King

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

— Excerpt, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

MLK — Lukewarm acceptance vs. outright rejection

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. (Letter from a Birmingham Jail.)

I am always left with my own prayer of, “God help me.”