Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr.,

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail is a rich resource for understanding the civil rights struggle. As I read it this morning I was struck by the depth of King's thoughts, the breadth of King's quotes, the soundness of King's reasoning, the pointedness of King's rebukes, and resoluteness of King's convictions. His words on the failure of 'moderate whites' and 'the church' to stand up for blacks and inject themselves into the struggle are convicting and true. I believe their is still much reconciliation to be done, and both moderate whites and the church still have a large role to play in bringing true equality for all races to America.

On the call for King's follower's no to protest and to let equality come naturally...
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait."

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.
King to white moderate...
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.
King to the church...
In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
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