Each year since his death over 50 years ago, we honor the memory of Dr. King and all he stood for in a day of remembrance, reflection and for many of us…a day of prayer.
Dr. King’s daughter, Rev. Bernice A. King, remembers her father as a freedom fighter and leader in the quest for civil rights, but primarily as a pastor and leader in faith.
“We can never forget as we celebrate, as we remember . . . that it was that faith and the spirit of God itself that fueled, that infused the movement that led to great change and transformation in the 50’s and 60’s,” she said.
Martin Luther King Jr. was driven by his faith, both his Christian faith and his faith that a dream – the American dream of a better life, a life of opportunity – would one day be available to everyone, based not on the color of skin but on one’s own personal abilities and achievements.
Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1
While he had no idea when or how his dream for a world where his “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,” King never gave up on his dream – preaching at risk to his very life and the lives of those who supported and surrounded him, including his own family.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered to millions there and on television – was broadcast from the Washington DC Mall August 28 in 1963 played a key role in mobilizing the supporters of desegregation and prompting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King’s speech expressed his passionate dream for racial equality among Americans and every individual’s right – and freedom – to live the American dream, regardless of race.
The reverend’s eloquent speeches for a world of racial equality, while based on the very beliefs that are reflected in the Declaration of Independence, spurred hatred and violence from some who did not agree with his views, putting his life in constant danger. While this danger was quite obvious to him – to everyone – Dr. King did not shy from sharing his beliefs or his faith.
“The first question,” King once said, “which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him’?”
King’s faith, in fact, fueled his drive for justice and for doing the right thing, even if these actions ran contrary to the (segregation) laws that were still on the books in the early 60’s.
“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.