On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we have a collection of articles from people of faith and others on the history and legacy of Dr. King.
We wrote about Dr. King last year, to share a story about his connection with Stevie Wonder.
From the Rev.Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle-Farms Magdalene, an essay aboutKing and radical love in the Tennessean. In her work with Thistle-Farms, Stevens provides a shelter for women who have survivedprostitution, trafficking, and addiction, and her experiences with abuse and harm inform her understanding of love.
From the article:
It doesnt mean we dont feel anger, it doesnt mean we don’t rail against principalities and institutions that dont practice radical hospitality, it doesnt mean there is no conflict.
It means we are a bunch of clanging symbols if we dont act with love as our guiding principle. It is a costly way to live in the political, economical, and religious fields, but it grows a rich harvest for the whole world to glean.
Martin, with his deep prophetic voice calling us to radical love, talks about moments like the midnight-coffee hour where he questions everything as he developed his course of action, but he keeps on loving. That commitment first to love even as we question everything else is what love requires of us.
On Mashable, Alex Q. Arbuckle of Retronaut has a collection of quotes and photos, connected to the stabbing in 1958 that nearly claimed King’slife. In his sermon-like speech, “I’ve Beento the Mountaintop”, King references the stabbing with the repeated phrase “if I had sneezed” as he lists the many things he wouldn’t have lived to see if he’d only sneezed. King had been stabbed with a letter opener by Izola Curry, then 42 and suffering from undiagnosed mental illness. The letter opener was dangerously close to his aorta, and a sneeze or movement on his part would have been fatal according to the surgeon who operated on him.
Also on Mashable, Katie Dupere offers advice to honor King’s memory today, instead of just taking a day off from work. Highlights include volunteering for local causes.
From the article:
While MLK Day is talked about as a national day of service, often it stops at just that merely talk. Instead of using the day as an excuse to sleep in or binge-watch a new Netflix series, commit to taking steps to support your local community directly especially local communities of color.
Visit here for a comprehensive database of all registered MLK Day volunteer opportunities in your area. But, beyond that, make it a goal to connect with your local community to find out what underserved populations in your area need from you. Let communities needing a hand define your role for you then, get to work.
The Guardian has a hopeful story on Melvin White, a St. Louis resident who discovered that a street named after King in his city was in a state of neglect and disrepair, and has put together an unlikely coalition of interested parties to improve the area.
They also have a story on a young man who survived being shot by Baltimore police; Keith Davis is still in jail, 200 days later, awaiting trial for a crime he seems unlikely to have committed. A cab driver told police thata man in his 30s with braids or long hair and a silver gun tried to rob him; police saw Davis, a 25 year old man with short, closely cut hair, and tried to arrest him.Witnesses to this incident said that Davis “looked like a little kid” and said he had a “square” black gun. Davis maintains that the ‘gun’ was actually his cellphone, and that the police did not find his prints on the silver gun they found nearby.
Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Dahleen Glanton asks Chicago why it hasn’t fulfilled the dream of King, noting pervasive levels of segregation, racial violence, and discrimination. Cities outside of the South are often seen as more liberal, less racist, locations, but Glanton reminds us that King had no illusions about Chicago, which remains one of the most segregated cities in America today, and responded to a march by King in ’66 with violence and hostility.
From the article:
While some neighborhoods are more racially diverse, Chicago is still one of the most segregated large cities in the country. According to the U.S. census, nearly 75 percent of African-Americans in Chicago live in a community that is at least 90 percent black. Historical redlining and other institutional discrimination have largely relegated poor blacks to a “lonely island of poverty.”[…]
Someone threw a rock and struck King in the head, knocking him to the ground. He would later say this about Chicago: “I have seen many demonstrations in the South, but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today.”
Fox News reports that civic leaders are celebrating in Columbia, S.C. todayfor the removal of the confederate flag from the capitol; previously, they’ve marched to the state capitol on MLK day to demand removal of the flag that flew there. The flag was removed, in July 2015, following the racially-motivated murders at an African-American church in Charleston.
On Quartz, Reniqua Allen writes that King would probably hate the holiday that bears his name today; as someone who admires and lovesKing and his work, Allennotes that we’ve forgotten the many people who worked with him, and he’s become a larger-than-life symbol instead of a reminder of the work we still need to do. Allenpraises Black Lives Matter for having a plurality of leaders and clear, cohesive demands, and asks us to remember the many people who came before King.
From the essay:
Ill admit its hard for me to imagine the Civil Rights movement without King and his speeches. But this weekend, we also need to celebrate the lives of Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, A. Phillip Randolph, and the many, many others who toiled, organized, and fought. Too often we forget that it was indeed a fight.
With Allen’s words in mind, we also have this piece, from 2015, with five facts about Coretta Scott King, who continued working for civil rights after the assassination of her husband.
How are you honoring Dr. King today? If you’re preaching this week, willhe find his way into your sermon?