Perhaps it would have been better to get this post up for April 4th, but I also wanted to be able to take the day’s commemorative speeches and events into account. But even more than that, the truth is that there is an effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by doing more than singling out a particular day, whether in January or in April. The Butler University Diversity Center held a conversation a while back that asked us to speculate on what Martin Luther King might be saying and doing today if he were still alive. Ultimately, if this post interests you less because it appears today rather than yesterday, then I would suggest that that is indicative of just how much remains to be done in order for King’s dream to find fulfillment.
The main thing I want to share is a free ebook that Chalice Press has made available for this occasion. Here are details from the publisher:
As the nation honors the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this week on the 50th anniversary of his assassination, Chalice Press is releasing a new, free e-book called The Beloved Community Today: Voices of Justice and Hope Honor MLK, Jr. This urgent collection of justice-fueled excerpts by a half a dozen of today’s most prominent activist-pastors, including William Barber II, Michael Waters, Leah Gunning Francis, Melvin Bray, and Sandhya Rani Jha, offers inspiration and echoes of Dr. King’s legacy for our on-going work for justice — and the beloved community — today.
There was also a powerful op-ed by Jesse Jackson, in which he wrote things such as “How he lived is why he died” and “America loathes marchers but loves martyrs.” We are indeed far more comfortable commemorating a martyr than dealing with those that we have yet to martyr but probably will as a society, because they are troubling us in precisely the same manner that the martyr we commemorate did. This is precisely the accusation that Jesus brought against his contemporaries (Luke 11:47), before being martyred himself. They build tombs to honor the prophets who were martyred in bygone eras, but will martyr anyone who brings a message like theirs in the present day.
See too John Eligon’s article on black church leaders in our time. Christian Century has two posts, one an interview with Cleophus Smith, the other focusing on Patrick Parr’s book about the influence of his seminary studies on King’s activism. Michael Pahl shared how he has learned from King as his perspective on him as an Evangelical has evolved. Commonweal shared an article from one of their April 1968 issues. Tom Krattenmaker emphasized the importance of not domesticating King’s legacy, while Tony Caldwell blogged about visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. John Lewis spoke here in Indianapolis, commemorating Robert Kennedy’s famous speech here.
The most authentic way to honor my father is to commit to the work of creating a more peaceful, just, humane world. Let quotes coincide with conscious efforts to eradicate poverty, militarism and racism (privilege + power = oppressive policies + culture). #MLK50Forward #MLK pic.twitter.com/exUAp1E68q
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 4, 2018