- Faith & Family
“Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully,” says Jeremiah 23:28. And with great faith on Aug. 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, amongst 250,000 Americans. He had envisioned that our country; which was led by hatred, racism, injustice and oppression, would one day “transform into an oasis of freedom and justice.” He stood with his head held high prophesying the future saying “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. . . that all men are created equal.”
He had faith that “the glory of the Lord would be revealed” and all Americans would be able to “work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together knowing that [Blacks] will be free one day.”
Local clergy members influenced by King
Rev. Harrell Henton of the Brownsville Church of Christ said King helped him understand that “through perseverance, change can come.”
“I am influenced by the way he was able to empower many with his words and dream,” he said. “As a result, I speak stronger and better, knowing that I can empower many with my words when I preach and teach.”
Rev. Joretha Capers of Ebenezer United Methodist Church describes King as the epitome of Micah 6:8 because he behaved justly, loved mercifully and walked humbly with God.
“It is fascinating to know that one man with the power of conviction can make a tremendous difference in the course of the world,” according to Rev. Alvin Daniels of Pembroke Park Church of Christ. “While men may know the difference between right and wrong, justice and injustice, few have the courage to stand up for it.”
Rev. Willie Sims, Jr., a minister of Peaceful Zion Missionary Baptist Church said, King may have influenced his life more than any single individual because of his courage and tenacity.
“The world knew him as not just a dreamer, but a person with enough courage to pursue his dream,” he said.
Just as King had inspired church leaders and Christian people, he also inspired the nation.
Keeping the 50-year-old dream alive
According to Rev. Henton the dream has somewhat been fulfilled because Black people have been given more equality and can now sit at tables and hold positions that they once weren’t able to. “But there are many that although free, they are enslaved mentally.”
But Sims believes that Blacks have not received racial equality, saying “Our young Black men are targeted for failure. Our girls are projected as prostitutes and recipients of welfare. Many of us have gotten caught up in the celebration and no longer have the desire to challenge the system to level the playing field for our people. The dream has partially been fulfilled, according to Capers, who believes is evident because of integration and Barack Obama being elected as president. But “areas where there is a lack of equality is economic empowerment.” Both Tate and Johnson believe that we are still fighting discrimination and also institutional racism.
The pastors all offered ways to keep the dream alive and to sustain justice, such as keeping God first in everything you do, praying for the community, educating young people and helping them understand themselves, fighting for equality, voting and electing sincere leaders,helping stop the violence, and “waking up from the dream and living out a bold reality.”
While discussing keeping the dream alive, Capers quoted King saying: Change does not roll on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through the continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
By Malika A. Wright