Prophetic Voices – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Monday, January 19, 2015  at 9:00 a.m. our Jr. and Young Adult Ushers sponsor an annual prayer breakfast honoring the great legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia. His father the Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King Sr. was the prominent pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta and his mother was the organist. His mother, Mrs. Alberta Williams King was a public school teacher in the segregated public school system of Atlanta. Martin Jr. was born into a family which valued education. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and was admitted to Morehouse College at age 15. After wrestling with the gospel ministry, Martin Jr. accepted his call. The gospel ministry was very much a part of his family. He and his brother, the Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King were third generation Baptist Ministers (their father and grandfather were Baptist Ministers.

He graduated Morehouse College with honors at age 19. He was then ordained to the Baptist Ministry. In pursuit of his education, he entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester Pennsylvania. After recieving his Master’s Degree from Crozer, he entered Boston University where he recieved a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Systematic Theology with honors. Despite his academic achievements, he lived in the segregated south. Jim Crow was the systematic practice of segregating and suppressing the African American community in the south. One of its major tenets was the separate but equal doctrine, which may have been separate but certainly not equal. The races were forbidden to mix and mingle in every area of life, i.e. African Americans could work for whites but not live or interact with them as equals. Martin was no stranger to the racial segregation and discrimination of the south and also the north.

As the newly elected pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama, he led the fight to end legal racial segregation and discrimination in this country. He never sought fame and fortune, nor did he seek recognition or notoriety. It was never his intention to be chronicled in the Annul of human history as some great deliverer or liberator of an oppressed people. He simply attempted to expose, confront, and overcome the evil system of segregation and discrimination which hindered us as African Americans and denied our rights as citizens. With the aid and support of mainly the Christian faith community and other faith communities of good will, he led the movement to desegregate the south and won. It was because of the Civil Rights Movement that President Lyndon Banes Johson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of July 2, 1964. He also signed the Voting Rights Acts guaranteeing every American citizen the right to vote regardless of race on August 6, 1965.

Incidently, the U. S. Supreme Court just recently undermined these laws so that now many Republican led state governemts have passed laws that are severely restricting our rights as African Americans to vote.  However, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others along wtih him suffered, bled,  and died so that America would become a more perfect union for all of her citizens, not just for whites. He once said that the difference between a thermometer and a  thermostat is that on records the temperature and the other sets the temnperature. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a thermostat. He set the standard for America. The Civil Rights Movement changed America and the world forever. However the work that brings justice, equality, peace and prosperity for all citizens is far from done. We thank God for M L King and others who blazed the trail and set the path so that those who will continue striving for justice, freedom, and equality for all people have examples worthy of emulation. We honor his memory and cherish his legacy.