Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King and it is being marked across this country with a number of events. The Washington Post reflects with its readers about how far American society has travelled over these past years. Here at VTS there is an ambivalent relationship with race and racism. Black and White ordinands were not educated and formed together for some time. Indeed when the place was built they rich founders almost certainly used black slave labour. There is plenty of room on this doorstep for repentence of the past but especially a resolve (which I see and hear clearly) to build a new a different future.
King’s story is a fascinating and disturbing one. He achieved national renown when he helped mobilize the black boycott of the bus system in Montgomery in 1955. This was organized after Rosa Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her seat to a white man – in the segregated south where black people could only sit at the back of buses. The 382 day boycott led the bus company to change its regulations and the Supreme Court declared such segregation unconstitutional.
King continued to fight for equality which resulted in a prison sentence. Perhaps we remember him best for his participation in the enormous civil rights march on this city in August 1963 when he delivered his famous I have a Dream speech predicting a day when the promise of freedom and equality for all would become a reality.
He was assassinated this day 1968 during a visit to Memphis, Tennessee.
Its very dangerous stuff – politics and religion – but especially when we begin to open up some of our societies paradoxes and our own internal contradictions!
Do we really believe that all people are equal?
What of difference and of change?
Are we committed to building churches and communities where all belong -were trust and openess are the ground of our relating – where we get angry about the oppressed and marginalised?
We still live in a divided society and those divisions are perpetuated by you and me. Where is our passion and our idealism? What kind of world are we building for those who will follow us?
We all live our lives moving forwards but perhaps it can only be understood backwards. Looking at the history of racism over the past 40 years has certainly unsettled my comfort zone. I am an optimist who worries a lot!
What is your dream for a better future? What would you like to change for the common good?