Honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear TKA Community,

I don't advertise that I grew up in the deep South, born in Mississippi in 1963. The relevance to that year is important. It was the year that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and the year Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous " I Have a Dream" speech. I walked to school every morning and watched my fellow black students "crossing the tracks" into the white part of town to go to school. Back then, that was just how it was. So, while I did attend a school that was desegregated, the message that racism was alive and well was still there. I can only imagine that it was even much worse the year that I was born.

This week, I read an article by Joel Hazard, a Christian educator in Texas, that encouraged Christian schools to discuss the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His article challenged me to investigate Dr. King's significance and his work for social equality in the United States. I started by reading what may be his most famous words, the "I Have A Dream" speech. As I read his words of encouragement to his followers that day, I was impressed by his call for peaceful protests. Let me share something from Dr. King's speech that is apropos for today. These are the words midway through his address, standing on the steps before the Lincoln Memorial:

"But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: in the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence."

This one paragraph that precedes his encouragement to the black community to work with the white community is so powerful. (I would also like to encourage everyone to read this speech in its entirety. If we truly understand all of the struggles the black community has had to overcome, its meaning is even clearer)

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 18, let us not forget the many contributions of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Let us follow his example of peaceful protests in a democratic society.