Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MLK Memorial Dedication: The Past, The Present, The Future



During the month of October, I have dedicated this blog to Pastor's Appreciation Month. When I began on October 1, I prayed that God would reveal interesting blog topics. Every week He has answered that prayer.

Today I dedicate this blog to one of history's most influential and celebrated pastors -- Martin Luther King, Jr. On Sunday thousands of people gathered to commemorate the unveiling of his 30-foot monument on the Mall in our nation's capital. Oh, how I wish I could have been there.

As I reflect on yesterday's dedication, I'll approach this event in light of the Past, the Present and the Future.

The Past
48 years ago Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, proclaiming "I Have a Dream." He was joined by thousands of people of various races and cultures for the 1963 March on Washington, a political rally in support of civil and economic rights. I'll share a small excerpt:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

The Present
The visual image I see in my mind's eye of the MLK Monument is this: A small statue of President Barack Obama, our nation's first African American president, standing firmly on the huge stone shoulders of Martin Luther King, Jr. For President Obama, and all African Americans today, truly stands on the shoulders of men and women like Dr. King, who gave their lives for the cause of equal rights for all.

Dr. King died so I could attend the schools of my choice. Dr. King died so I could visit my local election poll and cast my vote for the candidate of my choice. Dr. King died so my husband and I could lead a church body of people from different racial and economic backgrounds.

President Obama said it so eloquently on Sunday:
It is right that we honor that march, that we lift up Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech -- for without that shining moment, without Dr. King's glorious words, we might not have had the courage to come as far as we have. Because of that hopeful vision, because of Dr. King's moral imagination, barricades began to fall and bigotry began to fade. New doors of opportunity swung open for an entire generation. Yes, laws changed, but hearts and minds changed, as well. Look at the faces here around you, and you see an America that is more fair and more free and more just than the one Dr. King addressed that day. We are right to savor that slow but certain progress -- progress that's expressed itself in a million ways, large and small, across this nation every single day, as people of all colors and creeds live together, and work together, and fight alongside one another, and learn together, and build together and love one another.

The Future
As I think of the future, I must say we haven't reached the "Promised Land" yet. Much has changed in our country, but there's still lots of room for progress.

May I give a few examples?
  •  When I enter the bookstore, and especially the Christian bookstore, I'm hard pressed to find books written by African Americans. Should we assume there are few African Americans, other than athletes and musicians, that have anything to say by way of the written word?
  • I wonder why lower income neighborhoods, in every city of every state, are still full of African Americans, while middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods are still largely predominantly Caucasian.
  • African American musicians, artists, filmmakers and authors still fight for a place in their industries. They often have to create their own place (a la Tyler Perry), in order to find a place.
  • Underprivileged, under-resourced public schools are overflowing with minority students, while private schools abound with Caucasian students.
  • Liquor stores are found in abundance in lower-income communities, yet libraries, healthy grocery store chains and safe community centers are grossly lacking.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the steep mountain we have yet to climb as a nation. Yet I have hope that the legacy of Dr. King, and many others like him, will influence my generation and the generation behind me to continue to fight for equality and justice. That is my dream.

I'll end with the words of the Reverend Al Sharpton at the MLK Memorial Dedication. "This is not a monument of those times past," said Sharpton. "This is a marker for the fight for justice today and a projection for the fight for justice in the future because we will not stop until we get the equal justice Dr. King fought for."

May we continue Dr. King's fight.

Living For Justice and Mercy,

Carla

2 comments:

  1. Lately I've intentionally tried to find books by African-American authors for my kindle and I have realized, as you said, they are hard to find. I would love it if you could recommend a few.

    I've also noticed the disparity in the types of stores between middle- and lower-income communities. There is even a significant difference in the quality of items offered by same-name stores in those different communities, which I find especially unfair.

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  2. Barbara, I'll get a list of books for you I think you'll enjoy and post on your fb page. They are hard to find everywhere, unfortunately. And I agree about the stores. In some lower income neighborhoods , you'd be hard-pressed to find a fresh piece of fruit in a store anywhere. So good you're seeing the disparity. Awareness is the first step to change.

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