Monday Morning, January 26, 2009
Thanks to a friend who forwarded me a link, I’ve just completed what I expect will become my way of remembering Martin Luther King on this annual national holiday established in his honor.
I read his “Letter from a Birminham Jail.” (from April 1963)
It’s been a long time (sometime in the 1970s) since I explored the ten-page letter. I think it impacted me then, but how much more so now. From a prison cell in Alabama, King responded to a group of “moderate” clergy who released a letter of their own (A Call for Unity).
King’s command of language; his reference to biblical passages and characters, as well as theologians and philosophers, both contemporary and from the pages of history is compelling. His passion for justice, his clarion vision of freedom and the cost of it and his determination to follow the dictates of his conscience engage the reader powerfully. It is no wonder that King’s Southern Leadership Christian Conference sparked a movement that would bring segregation to the forefront of American life back in the sixties. Civil Rights legislation was inevitable.
I’ll look on this document as evidence that the written word has enormous power to affect change. His discussion of civil disobedience, his critique of a “disappointing” church, his challenge to clergy and his defense of an oppressed people stirs the heart, informs the mind and challenges the reader toward the courage of his/her convictions.
It’s inspirational reading. Click on the link. Find a quiet spot for a half hour or so. See if you feel the same.
And now, on occasion of Inauguration Day 2009, Dr. King must know. The dream certainly is not fully realized, but my my my, what a step, a giant step, in that direction.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp, 2009