A couple weekends ago I was down in Atlanta visiting my brother and we had an amazing Sunday down at the King Center and Ebenezer Baptist. As someone who has idolized Dr. King since high school and who has found his writings and sermons to be constant companions along my journey of understanding racism, equality, and social justice based in a vision of the Beloved Community it was truly a pilgrimage for me. Standing outside of the house where Martin was born on Auburn Avenue and to see it preserved brought all of the books I have read about King growing up and developing come to life in a way which connected me with, not only the history of the civil rights movement but also, the possibilities of his dream for our day and age.
I was also very pleased to see that the exhibit didn’t just stop with Dr. King’s work in the civil rights movement but also touched upon his work as it developed to address the related evils of poverty and militarism. I was honestly biting my tongue anticipating that the Poor People’s Campaign and King’s speech and marches against the Vietnam war would be excluded.
Walking through those pictures just down from the street where he grew up and the church where he pastored when he was killed made this man and the movement he has come to exemplify come to life in a way which begs the question: why not now? What is holding the people of this country from rising up again as a un-ignorable voice and force for peace and justice? What would it take for we the people, in the midst of this increasingly global awareness, to believe that the world which God intends is indeed a possibility and that we have an enormous power as united people to bring this new world into being?
On the way back to the car I made a more intentional stop at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame as was cheered as I saw the foot prints of Michael Pfleger. In addition to working with Father Pfleger in his role as co-chair of the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry I also had the privilege of doing an internship at the Faith Community of St. Sabina. This amazing church and its faith-filled congregants have taught me more about living out faith than three whole years of seminary. Quite a portion of my hope for the continuation of Dr. King’s dream comes from having experienced this community and having been deeply moved by their spirit and faith.
Good work is being done in the churches, synagogues, mosques, and community development organizations across this county. We must learn to lift up these points of light in spite of the seeming prevailing of darkness and to encourage our communities to be inspired by the Spirit which is surely at work even now.
Here’s a recent, ten minute interview with Rev. Dr. Michael L. Pfleger on the Tavis Smiley show.