Remember and Hope…

When I taught school and this day came around, it was always difficult for me to teach. I did not experience first hand any of the atrocities of segregation, though my parents and grandparents did. I lived in rural Mississippi as a child, but did not understand color difference. The song I sang every day, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”, said that Jesus loves us all, red and yellow, black and white, so I did too. It didn’t occur to me that others didn’t, hadn’t or wouldn’t. I never thought to ask my parents or grandparents. Getting older, I realized that there were differences. 99% of my church was white, but that wasn’t true at school or in my neighborhood. It still didn’t really dawn on me, that these issues were still around until I went to college where racial tensions came to head on Oct. 1, 1962 with the admission of James Meredith to Ole Miss, and still simmer under the magnolias there from time to time. So when it came to teaching my students about Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he did and what he stood for, I always felt inadequate. I would tell them the facts and read them the speech, and every time I would cry. I could not explain why I couldn’t make it through this historical text without being overcome and I always worried it would confuse my students, my emotions. After all, I had never been hurt by this horrible life of racism and segregation. I had never felt any hint of pain or loss or humiliation.
And then today I got it. I am sad and grieving because it happened at all. This dark mark on our history made by people created in God’s image against fellow image bearers. The wrongness is heartbreaking and moves me to tears every time. The damages we have done to our Creator’s work through our sin continue to put dark marks on us all. My pastor spoke of Godly sorrow vs. worldly sorrow on Sunday. Worldly sorrow is regret b/c of negative consequences. Godly sorrow is regret that we have hurt God and others.
I think Dr. King’s speech moves me to tears because also some things have not yet come to pass. Things are definitely better than in his day and he and the people who stood with him, went about it in the right way- peacefully. But some things he spoke of have not happened yet and will not happen until Jesus, our Savior, returns to completely heal this broken world. But I look forward to that day and pray I can help, in some small way. Hope is what we have.

My friend, Heidi's beautiful family. What our world SHOULD look like, and with hope, one day will.

I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my 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.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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3 thoughts on “Remember and Hope…

  1. Beautifully written! Two days ago I watched a history special on the KKK and it was so horrifying and disgusting that it literally made me sick to my stomach. I felt so inadequate in trying to explain to my children why this went on in our country and in some areas still goes on. I really couldn’t explain it. There is no explanation for that type of injustice, brutality, and insanity. I thank God for Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and all the faithful men and women who helped begin the work of equality.

    Thanks for the great post! BTW I love your quote from “Twelfth Night”. I have always loved that line.

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