Honor Rev. King This Way

August 31, 2020 |

Ordinarily, I would have written extensively about Friday’s 57th anniversary of the March on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a huge inspiration to me as a kid growing up in the South, and his dream of a land in which all the races live together in peace, judged by the content of their characters and not the color of their skin, was an inspiration to my life and those of countless others.

Unfortunately, this year’s observance of that anniversary in Washington, organized by Al Sharpton, in many ways betrayed the spirit of the Rev. King’s message with gratuitous racial slanders for political purposes (i.e., Sharpton calling the President “Bull Trump” – Bull Connor was a Democrat, it needs to be noted again and again) and divisive, anti-American rhetoric. Some speakers couldn’t have perverted the Rev. King’s message more if they’d literally declared that we must judge people by their skin color, not their character.

One praiseworthy exception worth mentioning is the Rev. King’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, who said, “My generation has already taken to the streets – peacefully and with masks and social distancing – to protest racism.” I wish some of the adults there had her wisdom and sense of responsibility.

Before anyone starts accusing me of only saying this because I’m white, read the words of this longtime Democratic Tennessee state Representative and veteran of the civil rights movement who calls it “appalling” and “heartbreaking” to associate the non-violent protests of the Rev. King with “burning and looting and stealing.” He said, "It's like we're trying to live up to the worst of stereotypes, the worst of behavior, the worst of perceptions.”

As I often like to remind people, especially those who forget or try to obscure this fact, the Rev. King was, first and foremost, a great preacher of the Gospel. Some of his most inspiring words came in the form of sermons. I urge you to honor his legacy by reading those, not listening to people who would distort his message for their personal political motives. You can start with this, the final sermon he ever gave on April 3, 1968 in Memphis. You will search in vain to find any encouragement of violence or incitements of race hatred in it.

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