Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Fifty Years Ago Today...

...the Baptist Pastor, Dr Martin Luther King, was assassinated. He was just 39 years old - but had already achieved so much - he was the leader of the Civil Rights movement in the USA. His ideals were firmly rooted in his Christian faith, but he adopted the non-violent operational techniques used by Gandhi in India. In 1955 he led the great bus boycott, and then was involved in many other protest marches and demonstrations. He was arrested more than twenty times, his home was bombed, he and his family suffered much abuse - but still he persisted in his fight for freedom. At the age of 35 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize [at the time, the youngest ever Peace laureate]
As a child, my bedtime stories were often tales of Good People Who Have Made A Difference - and MLK was one of Dad's heroes. He even got told off for commending him from the pulpit [but it didn't stop him!] In 1973, Dad was able to visit Atlanta and stand by King's grave. Sadly the photograph taken that day went missing. Beside the grave stands my Dad, a humble Baptist Pastor from England, shaking hands with a black nurse who has travelled miles across America, to pay her respects there. Dad bought a poster that day,  the 'I have a dream' speech, and it hung over his desk for years. In 2004, I stood with my family on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, where that speech was made.
I share that dream - that one day people will be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I was moved by the appearance of his little 9 year old granddaughter, Yolanda, last week, when she spoke out for gun control.
I cannot watch this video of his speech without being moved to tears.
I thank God for what this great man achieved, and for his enduring legacy. I believe that now, he is truly 'Free at last'. But my heart aches that 50 years on, there is still so much racism, so much injustice, so much hatred. 
Galatians 6:9 - So let us not become tired of doing good, for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.


  1. You would think things would have moved on, but sadly they haven't. Me and J both had black friends when we were growing up, and our younger daughter's partner is black. They run the gauntlet of stares and comments when they are out together. I've seen it with my own eyes and it angers and upsets me in equal measure. I have no doubt that I will, one day, be grandma to a beautiful mixed race child. The thought fills me with joy, but also fear at what he or she will face from the hate filled ignorant bigots.

  2. Scarlet, thank you for sharing your story. Praying that when you are blessed with grandchildren, they will know that they are loved and valued. And may God give your daughter and her partner all the grace and strength they need when racists and bigots pass judgement.

  3. Great reflection, thank you, Angela. I'm just that bit too young to recall any of this for myself.

    Scarlet, I am so sorry that bigotry still blights lives. Your grnadchildren, when they come, will be beautiful and loved and valued.

  4. I remember reading about it in the newspapers, at the time. A lot of the non-violence that Gandhi advocated was also advocated by another son of India, before him - the Buddha, who said that hatred is not overcome by more hatred, but only by loving-kindness.

    The Cathedral, here, will participate in ringing the bells to honor Dr. King, later this afternoon to mark the time of his death.


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