Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, and I found myself profoundly moved. I wasn’t expecting to be on the verge of tears all day, or to be consumed by thoughts and prayers for justice to the point of being unable to process anything else.
Maybe it’s because I was just reading about MLK’s life and work last week. Maybe it’s because of the consistent violence towards black men that keeps tearing families apart. I don’t understand it all, but I believe taking life is wrong in most, if not all, circumstances (I’m still figuring that one out. I’ve got a pacifist mother but many friends that are in the military or pro-military…I’ve read Colson and Claiborne and others, and I still can’t make up my mind…Of course, I love King’s stance for nonviolence. And Jesus’ examples of nonviolence.) My heart is broken over Stephon Clark and many others. I know that racism and injustice are still woven into the fabric of North America. It’s wishful thinking (or ignorance) to think we’ve completely moved past it.
I know I’m not the voice you need to hear on this. Take some time to listen/read to other voices that speak on this better than I. Here are just a few:
John Perkins on Racial Reconciliation:
John C. Richards Jr on Being Black and Evangelical:
Priscilla Shirer on Ferguson a couple years back:
MLK’s legendary leadership started with a bus boycott. Simple, yet well organized and the purpose clearly communicated through phone calls, flyers, and word of mouth. The boycott lasted for over a year. Talk about longevity. The government kept denying basic rights, but the black Americans were RESILIENT. Then segregationists bombed Dr. King’s house. For a nonviolent bus boycott.
This reminds me of a recent instance where an Iranian woman was arrested simply for removing her hijab and peacefully protesting ( girl-of-enghlelab-street-iran ).
We weren’t meant to live under oppressive power, yet our world is so infiltrated with abuses of power that it makes me sick.
Injustice “always involves the abuse of power” according to John Stott (as quoted in Gary Haugen’s book Good News About Injustice, 1999 p. 9).
MLK went on to lead a movement that is larger than life, but he died too young. He was only 39 when he was murdered. We needed him for longer. There is so much left to be done.
If he were still alive, I think he would have words of rebuke for us, but also words of hope. I believe he would be a voice that united both black and white brothers and sisters, and pointed a clear path for moving forward together.
What are the steps towards reconciliation, justice, and civil rights today? To be honest, I’m so inexperienced on this journey of justice that I’m not the one to tell you. So my words are this:
Listen. Read. Pray. Listen again. There are stories pouring out, words and lives and experiences that need to be heard, listened to, and acted upon.
Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr, wrote this:
And because twitter is the place where political people gather, here are some tweets that are packed with potency in 280 characters or less:
Much love and peace,