Celebrating the Modern Day Prophet, MLK

by Lindsey Krinks

Deeply committed to civil rights, nonviolence, and socio-economic  justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. shaped the conscience of his generation and paved the way for landmark legislation that has helped to create a more just society. His words and legacy continue to speak truth to power wherever there are people who are marginalized, persecuted, and impoverished; wherever there are people who believe in the power of love over hate, the power of creative nonviolent action over violence and war. We celebrate his legacy and the countless individuals who worked toward justice and realizing/creating “the beloved community” here on earth. We celebrate and remember MLK not only by serving others on his birthday, but by seeking to live every day in resistance to the powers of violence, destruction, greed, and injustice and by witnessing to light, life, and the love of God for all His children.

I spent some time today reading through several of MLK’s last speeches and sermons. Here are a few excerpts I came across that are particularly relevant to our work with the homeless community:

“We’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day, we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” – “Where Do We Go From Here”

“The plantation and ghetto were created by those who had power, both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness. The problem of transforming the ghetto, therefore, is a problem of power—confrontation of the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to preserving the status quo.” – “Where Do We Go From Here”

“We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or we will all perish together as fools.” – “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”

“Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be coworkers with God.” – “Remaining Awake”

On nonviolent direct action: “Why do we do it this way? We do it this way because it is our experience that the nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action… Nothing will be done until people of good will put their bodies and their souls in motion.” – “Remaining Awake”

“It’s alright to talk about ‘long white robes over yonder,’ in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s alright to talk about ‘streets flowing with milk and honey,’ but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s alright to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.” – “I See the Promise Land”

“Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.” – “I See the Promise Land”

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