I have been thinking of late about legacy and that of Martin Luther King, Jr. “”We must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all our actions.” So spoke the newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which had just been organized to lead a bus boycott to protest segregated seating in the city buses. The president, and new pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist, went on to say that blacks must not hate their white opponents. “Love is one of the pinnacle parts of the Christian faith. There is another side called justice, and justice is really love in calculation.“”
Thus begun an article, one of many I have read about Martin Luther King, Jr., over the years. According to Wikipedia: “Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs”. MLK and his legacy have been cited often over the years and has cropped quite a bit these last few days, and this is partly in the context of Donald J Trump becoming the next US President (Friday) and the suggestion he is racist.
In one article I read today, titled: “Inauguration boycott grows as Donald Trump meets Martin Luther King III” I read: “As son of civil rights hero attends Trump Tower for ‘constructive’ meeting, more than 3o Democrats say they will not attend after Trump spat with John Lewis. More than 30 members of Congress will boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, amid escalating outrage over alleged connections between the president-elect’s team and Russia and disparaging remarks about civil rights veteran John Lewis”. What the meeting achieved I cannot say but that the two men met has to be a good thing. If Trump is to be the President for all the people then the MLK legacy is pertinent.
Like many, I am an admirer of MLK, and believe when it came to leaving a legacy he is at the top of the list alongside Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi. But like us all he was a flawed character, and just because he was there with MLK at the beginning, that doesn’t make Congressman Lewis above criticism when he declared Trump was not his President. But the civil rights issue still remains, despite the great progress made since MLK orchestrated his peaceful protest against manifold abuses. And while racism is an emotive term and some accuse Trump as being racist, the need to identify wrong in these areas and then address them, has to be a good thing and why I welcome the action of MLK’s son. As MLK said in his oft quoted (including by me) “I have a dream” speech that: “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.
As I have reflected regarding my own life’s journey, given my earlier Christian influences, including fear of getting sidetracked, it might have been the natural path to focus mainly on the Christian bit and leave out social action altogether. But true Christianity requires its adherents to be mindful of the need for justice and to speak and act on behalf of those who have been treated unjustly, for if we don’t, who will? I thank MLK for helping me to become the gospel preaching, community activist I am today. And I leave you with this MLK parting thought: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Now is the time!