Monday, January 16, 2006

Tribute to a Great Man

I grew up in Mississippi in the 1960s. I witnessed segregation at its worse. I found myself stuck in an environment steeped in ignorance (that's what prejudice is). I don't know how many times I heard white people say, "I'm not prejudice. I don't hate niggers, just as long as they stay in their place." Really? What was their place? To recognize that they weren't equal to whites?

Or, "Hey, they have their freedom. What more do they want?" How about a chance?

I wish I could say that everyone has progressed beyond such ignorant attitudes, but I still occasionally hear similar comments. And saddest of all is that I most often hear them from "Christians."

Today, America honors one of her greatest -- Martin Luther King, Jr. A man who awakened the conscience of a nation. And he did it without inflamatory rhetoric or threats of violence. Oh, I know that morally he had his failings (many whites love to point that out, as if it negates all of the good he did.) But so did FDR and JFK.

He patterned his reforms after Jesus. He was imprisoned, beaten, spit upon, mocked. His family was threatened. His house was a target of vigilantes. Finally, he was murdered. But through it all, he was even-tempered. He continually called for love for and equality to all races. His "I have a dream" speech has to rank as one of the greatest speeches ever given.

So, today America honors this man. I'm shocked that people say, "This holiday is just a token, PC holiday to appease the blacks." Huh? No, this is a day to remember a man who awakened a nation from SIN -- the sin of hating and mistreating those made in the image of God for no reason other than the color of their skin. This day is a day to remember a man who stirred the conscience of a nation to begin doing what was right. We "whites" have as much reason to be thankful to Martin Luther King, Jr. as African-Americans do.

My prayer is that the last holdouts in our nation (our churches) will "catch the dream."


Josh Ross said...

Your second to last paragraph was amazing. It should be published.
This is a day that is just as important to the white person than it is to the African-American or the Hispanic. "White Privilege" has, and continues, to hinder our churches and our society from fully embracing the nature of the Kingdom of God.
You listed that people had faults like JFK, but so did everyone whose name is written in Hebrews 11. MLK Jr. is he greatest prophet in the history of America. If you have yet to read his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," take a few minutes to read it today.
I give thanks for MLK Jr. today.

Melissa Taylor said...

My 3rd grade daughter is learning about Martin Luther King Jr. in school and she is amazed by him - as we all should be. Our country has in fact come a long way from the time that blacks weren't allowed in white schools to now learning about MLK and honoring him with a national holiday. However, Morgan was saddened to realize that some people still think of blacks as less than human. She told me about the KKK (she thinks I don't know these things), and she was very sad when she talked about it. It breaks my heart that my child has to know of such things, but hopefully I can (and others can) raise their kids to believe that God loves us all - regardless of the color of our skin. MLK was an amazing man, and I am thankful for the lessons that he taught ALL of us.

Beverly Ross said...

Excellent post today! I remember the 'times' very well! I am glad to live on this side of them!

Jeff said...

I appreciate your view of the holiday. Coming from an area where prejudice was still alive and well through my high school years, I've seen the good and bad of race issues.
We were fortunate to have several activities with the youth of a "black" church in Tyler. We talked about why our churches were separate even then and it simply came back to the fact that our worship styles were a bit different. We never thought of it as a separation of color but a separation of styles. I don't know that I've ever attended a church where race was an issue and I hope I never do.