Monday, January 19, 2015

In Memory of Martin Luther King

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." 
Martin Luther King


     On his birthday celebration day, I want to remember Martin Luther King with his own words. In the same year that JFK was assasinated I was taken on a trip by family friends and spent a couple of weeks in Selma, Alabama. I was a freshman in high school. I grew up near St. Louis, but found myself in a whole different world. I was horrified at the way "negroes" were treated. I had never seen anything like it. If you aren't old enough to have been there you have no idea. I had never seen adult white men yell epithets out the car window at a black man walking down the side of the road. I had never seen "White" versus "Negro" separate water fountains, or customer windows at the Dairy Queen. I had never experienced going to see a movie where tickets boxes were separated by color, and the black seating was confined to the third story balcony, above the white second story balcony and main level. I had never had anyone tell me, "You shouldn't have stepped aside for that old nigger lady walking towards you on the sidewalk. They will move. They know their place." For someone whose elementary school best girlfriend was a "negro", this was quite a shock to me. I did not understand it at all.

     Fast forward about fifty years and I found myself at a rally at the Mall in Washington D.C. that looked exactly like the one in the photo above.  I was standing there below the Lincoln Memorial at Glen Beck's "Restoring Honor"  event, and the crowd was just as huge; over 200,000 in attendance. There I was honored to hear Alveda King speak about her uncle. Who knew MLK was a Republican? Who, today, realizes that the forces of oppression of African-Americans from the post-Civil-War years onward, were Democrats? She revealed a lot that I had never heard. (Research the Governor of Alabama, George Wallace, or the history of the KKK, for example.) I did know that my own great-grandfather had been raised by the family slaves after post-Civil War carpetbaggers had murdered his parents, who owned a farm in the south.

     And today who realizes that MLK was motivated, not by politics or money-huckstering, such as we see today, but by the love of Jesus? That is why he was so successful--he had a God-given calling to expose evil and set the oppressed free.  And he did it by a God-centered plan--love.  Never since Ghandi had a pacifist changed the world like Martin Luther King did. Never did MLK allow looting, rioting, or hatred to be associated with his civil rights movement--even when the civil authorities attacked their peaceful protestors in the streets. No retribution was allowed by MLK, even when he was thrown in jail unjustly. That is what made him so powerful. Turning the other cheek exposed clearly to the world the abject corruption behind racism. He just kept stating the truth, peacefully and respectfully, but without apology.

     A year after I was in Selma, the MLK marches happened there and the exposure of light had a very purifying effect. I wish we could see more of that today. Where are the truth-tellers? Where are the true leaders, who desire peace and love, rather than hatred and division? Where are the leaders who care more about people than they do about money and power? I pray that we might emulate MLK by always striving to expose corruption, wherever it happens, with simple, unemotional, unapologetic Truth. No one has done that quite as well as he did.

    May God send us another Martin Luther King.