In these times of the days of Trump, we must reach back to our training and life’s experiences. We should reach back to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King whose words and deeds taught us that helping others is what keeps us moving forward as a people and as individuals. His speeches and writings provide a life textbook as to what we are to do in life.
One writer declares Dr. King as, “a symbol of divinely inspired hope, a kind of modern day Moses to those who brought back hope to the Southern Negro.” James Weldon Johnson declared in his song that became the Negro National Anthem that hope had died. Surely Dr. King brought hope for the future.
With his hand on the casket of Cynthia Wesley, Dr. King said that she and the other three little girls who died at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing were martyrs in a holy crusade for human dignity. Their deaths have something to say to all of us; to ministers safe behind stained glass windows and to politicians who feed their constituents the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of hatred.
The question for today is has the crusade ended or is what we do today part of that crusade. I think it has not ended, and if you are not participating by helping others there is no crusade. It is like voting or not voting. If you don’t participate in the vote then you have given up.
The Bible says “To whom much is given much is required”. Whatever we do today should be part of the holy crusade for human dignity. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain, and if you have dropped out of the struggle, you have forfeited your right to complain when things go wrong.
I am well into my senior years now, but God has provided me with strength and knowledge to keep on working in the struggle. Dr King died too soon but he paved the way for those of us he left behind to keep on struggling. He not only paved the way, he provided a roadmap as to how to get the job done: Non-violently pressing forward towards the mark set for excellence and ignoring those who would see us drop out along the way.
King was just one of the warriors who set the path for us to travel, but all of them set a path that has to be traveled. Sitting out the struggle will cause you to be set out. I have a one and a half year old great granddaughter. I can’t sit out of the movement because there are still cracks and bumps in the road that must be smoothed out so that her path can be traveled. The saying, “It ain’t over till it’s over” is so true. We must keep on moving till the path is smooth for fellow travelers or at least smoother than it was when we began our journey.
I laugh at the young who with all the energy in the world lay down and sleep as often and long as possible, study as little as possible, smoke what they want, drink what they want without a thought about where it is leading them to. Then when they end up poor, broke, maybe homeless or in jail on the outs of life, they’re answer to how they got there is by blaming someone else. Instead, they need to share their lesson of life with a fellow traveler so they don’t end up in the same life puddle that they ﬁnd themselves in.
I am reminded of Dr. Kings last speech in Memphis, TN when he said that he had seen the promised land, and while he may not get there with us, we will get there. Messengers and disciples like Reverend Barber, Reverend Al Sharpton, and others as yet unnamed who are coming along, must carry on the ﬁght for justice and equality against those who still believe that the white race is superior.
Over the next few days we will hear the words of Dr. King’s Dream from children and politicians. Those words are empty without mention of the pretext of the insufﬁcient funds on the promissory note that all men are guaranteed the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The words of the dream are empty without a path to the beneﬁts to the promise, including the direct action of marches, sit-ins, and negotiations for a crisis and resulting creative tension written about by Dr King in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”.
We all must show up and ﬁnd something to do for someone that helps fulﬁll the promise that leads to the fulﬁllment of that dream.