Remembering King’s Assassination 50 Years Ago

4500

Photo credit: The Guardian

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

I remember precisely where I was when I got the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination. It was my freshman year in college, a midwestern liberal arts school, and I’d just walked into the lounge of my dormitory when a bulletin broke into regular TV programing. The lone other student, whose face and name I mercifully do not recall, was seated high on the back of an overstuffed black leather chair. He muttered, “Somebody finally got that n****r.” I remember running the length of hall to the pay phone booth and calling my folks in Detroit, weeping into the receiver. In those tears, something shifted in me vocationally that day which bears on who I am. Continue reading

If We Aren’t Willing to Tell the Truth

LorraineFrom Jyarland Daniels, the executive director of Harriet Speaks:

April 4th will be upon us soon, and we will read articles like this for days. I want to ask (read: beg) you to remember language matters.

This article says, “50 Years After Dr. King’s Death…” “Death” is also used throughout the article. If we stop and think about the word “death” for a moment we see history is being sanitized and re-written before our very eyes.

You see, “Death” is the word we use when someone does of old age, or perhaps after a battle with an illness, or even an accident. But Dr. King was MURDERED. And not only that, but we now know that this government was complicit in his murder. 

Language matters. Words matter. If we aren’t willing to tell the truth and use the right language for how King died, then we aren’t ready to talk about what his life meant.

#RevolutionOfValues: A Week of Creative Action

RevolutionThe U.S. Department of Arts and Culture has no connection whatsoever to the government.  It is a people-powered department—a grassroots action network inciting creativity and social imagination to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging.  The USDAC is  calling on artists, creative organizers, concerned citizens, and all community members to join together from April 2-8, 2018, to draw inspiration from and breathe new life into the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., strengthening our commitment to speak truth to power and sparking creative action in the year ahead. Below are some ideas that the USDAC has provided to help spark the imagination.

MORE INFO ON #REVOLUTIONOFVALUES:

“Radical” is a much maligned word: it comes from the Latin radix (root), and refers to anything that goes to the root of the matter, rather than tinkering with the leaves and branches. Many people have downplayed Dr. King’s deep spiritual and political radicalism, trying to whitewash his true views. Now it is more important than ever to use our creativity to nourish the roots of love and justice. Continue reading

From A Birmingham Jail to the Modern Black Athlete

MLKFrom The Undefeated and ESPN collaborating on a tremendous series called  The State of the Black Athlete:

Martin Luther King Jr. penned his Letter from Birmingham Jail in a narrow cell on newspaper margins, scraps of paper and smuggled-in legal pads. He had no notes or reference materials. Yet, King’s eloquent defense of nonviolent protest and searing critique of moderation continues to resonate in a nation still divided by race. Continue reading

Prayer for the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

USMC-09611By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

Spirit of the Universe, whose moral arc you make to bend toward justice,
thank you for birthing our brother Martin, right on time, into our history, into the journey of transformation for which we yearn. For uttering him in the Word, and forming him in the womb.

We lift him up this day in the communion of ancestors, summoning him from among all who have ever interceded and struggled for justice. Continue reading

The Fierce Urgency of Now

FierceBy Ched Myers, originally posted in the June 2017 BCM eNews

Note: Below are edited and excerpted comments from Ched’s keynote to the annual dinner of the Cal-Pac Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries Network, at the University of Redlands, CA on June 17, 2017.

It’s a formidable task to come up with 15 minutes of inspiration and exhortation to a group like this, given that your vocations have long been forged around the work of inspiring and exhorting. So I’ll leave that task to one who inspired and exhorted all of us, and does so still: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the author of tonight’s thematic meme: “The fierce urgency of now.”

It is both relevant and poignant that this very phrase anchored two of Dr. King’s most famous public addresses, speeches that bracketed the second half of his public career as a civil rights leader. It first appeared in his most well-known exhortation to the nation–you know, that one in front of the Lincoln memorial on Aug 27, 1963. “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now,” intoned our greatest prophet. “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
Continue reading

A Creative Psalm of Peace

mlkDay 35 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam.”

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
—————-
-Today, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam.”  Rachel Harding, Ruby Sales, Michelle Alexander and many others will be gathering tonight at Riverside Church from 7-9pm EDT.

-Listen to the original audio recording of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech in its entirety HERE.

-For more analysis of the speech, Dr. Vincent Harding and the history social justice movements in the U.S., check out this Iconoclast episode with Joanna Shenk, Elaine Enns and Ched Myers, recorded at the February 2017 Kinsler Institute hosted by Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries.