Semper Informanda: Prolegomenon
Remembering MLK: Making Justice a Reality For All of God's Children
On January 17, 2011, we as a nation observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since 1986, this has been established as a U.S. federal holiday. Every year when this holiday comes around it reminds people of the civil rights movement. This movement, prominent during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, is arguably one of the darkest times in American history and church history.
Dr. King is most notably remembered for his leadership during the civil rights movement. He labored endlessly to make visible what was invisible in American society, which was racial equality and justice for black Americans. His mission was to make “justice a reality for all of God’s children.”1
Dr. King labored tirelessly to make the crooked areas (racial segregation, discrimination, and injustice) of American society straight. Some examples of his tireless efforts include when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and the march on Washington, D.C., in 1963. As a Baptist minister, the bible was instrumental in his life. It guided and governed his leadership of the civil right movement, and it was the Word of God that framed his worldview. He saw that the Scriptures teach that all human beings are created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity as image bearers of God, regardless of race, gender, or age.
King saw this belief reflected in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, in the familiar words that “all men are created equal.” All the evidence confirmed his convictions, but these truths were not visible in American society or, for that matter, in the American church. Instead of racial equality Dr. King saw that the life of blacks was “sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”2 Black Americans were targets of systemic injustice, police brutality, and they were forced to live in poverty in the midst of a prosperous nation. They experienced hatred instead of love, even in the Christian church where congregations were taught to love their neighbors as themselves. The black community, Christians and non-Christians alike, experienced rejection from white Christians.
Seeing that his reality was not matching up with what he read in Scripture, Dr. King sought to do something about it. He gave all his energy and strength to the cause of social justice. In the spirit of William Wilberforce, he was passionate about seeking to implement legislation that would give blacks their citizenship rights.
Truth that travels is an excellent way to summarize the life and times of Dr. King. He knew the truth, he acted on it, and he opened the eyes of others to see that truth. He put his life on the line for the biblical cause of human dignity and justice. His sacrifice is marked by stark statistics: in the span of about 13 years he was arrested 30 times, his home was fire-bombed, and on one occasion he nearly died from stab wounds—all in the pursuit of justice.
Ultimately, Dr. King gave his life in order to make “justice a reality for all of God’s children,”3 which sadly ended at the young age of 39 when he was shot in Memphis, Tenn. His life and determination is a great example of a person living in accordance with biblical truth. His life is by far one of “the greatest demonstrations for freedom in the history of our nation.”4
Mr. Lloyd Dawson
1 Martin Luther King, “I Have A Dream,” available from http://www.mlkonline.net/dream.html; Internet; accessed 16 February 2011.
Orlando Semper Informanda | Volume 5 Issue 20