Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
This calendar year, I am going to open each monthly newsletter with a brief bio and takeaway on world changers. This month, in association with the MLKJ holiday, we are taking a look at Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who stood against racism and who stood for human equality as corroborated by Scripture. Dr. King, the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner and an ordained Baptist pastor, was an intelligent and courageous leader of the civil- and economic-rights movements. Not one to shy away from conflict, he also protested the Vietnam War and its senseless loss of lives. Seen as a threat to government stability, King was scrutinized by the FBI and NSA in an attempt to discredit and silence him—but only a bullet would accomplish that untoward objective. On April 4, 1969, James Earl Ray shot and killed Dr. King in the lobby of a Memphis hotel. While the nations mourned, his words reverberated the halls of Congress. Just days after his assassination, the House of Representatives ratified the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Perhaps the most famous speech that Dr. King delivered to the nation was a live television broadcast from the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. Demanding the end of segregation in schools, the dismantling of discrimination in the workplace, as well as protection of civil rights protesters from police brutality, Dr. King poetically cast a vision of “one nation under God”:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… I have a dream 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. I have a dream today…
Dr. King’s inspiring speech reached well beyond our American borders, influencing the civil rights movement in South Africa and the establishment of the Peace Committee, a United Kingdom venture supported by Northumbria and New Castle Universities to “build cultures of peace.” Yet, for all his accomplishments, Dr. King, like the biblical King David, was a man of clay feet. His extra-marital affairs and progressive views on planned parenting both collided with our Christian worldview of the sanctity of marriage and life. Nevertheless, Dr. King was a world changer who deserves to be remembered for the legacy he left to promote the biblical truth that: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 ESV