The Autobiography of Martin Luther King: Chapter 7-8
After Rosa Parks was arrested for her refusal to give up her seat and the people decided to band together and boycott the bus systems, King was soon given the role of the spokesperson for this movement. When the pressures of the new role began to pile on his shoulders, King addressed the crowds. The words that Reverend Martin Luther King spoke to the crowds are words that we can not only love, but learn from in our struggles.
“We, the disinherited of this land, we who have been oppressed so long, are tired of going through the night of captivity. And now we are reaching out for the daybreak of freedom and justice and equality. May I say to you, my friends, as i come to a close….that we must keep….God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all of our actions. But I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about love. Love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian faith.” (Pg. 60)
This is great advice for anybody who is going through a difficult time or a time of oppression. Too often I think as we struggle through the situations that we have been given, we have a tendency to leave our faith on God in the past. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged us to keep God the most important thing in our lives. If we are going to express our love and passion for God, then our actions need to reflect that passion in such a way that people art drawn not only to us, but the God that we represent.
As King worked tirelessly for the movement that would soon create so much change throughout all of America, he often found himself mentally and spiritually exhausted. In the quiet time of his personal prayer, here are some words that I truly believe that we should still pray today:
“LORD, I'm down here trying to do what's right. I think I'm right. I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak now, I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage. Now, I am afraid. And I can't let the people see me like this because if they see me weak and losing my courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone.” (Pg, 77)
This prayer shows a powerful man loosing strength in this seemingly-impossible battle. While he was loosing strength and may have been becoming afraid of his impact as a leader, what we also see is a man who has not lost hope. We also see the true source of MLK's strength and endurance during one of the most difficult times in his life and ministry.
As the bus boycotts were a huge success and the movement began getting bigger, impacting the lives of many. King soon got the news that his house was bombed. He quickly headed to his house, waiting to see his wife and born daughter.
After he realized that his family is safe, King addressed the people that gathered outside of his house. Some of which wanted to physically attack the white police officers.
“We believe in law and order. Don't get panicky. Don't do anything panicky at all. Don't get your weapons. He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. Remember that is what God said. WE are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. Love them and let them know you love them. "
MLK encouraged the crowds around his home to not become a vessel for violence. He knew that there was no solution in causing more physically attacking any of the police officers, or anybody else for that matter.
To the crowds around his house, King continued:
"I did not start this boycott. I was asked by you to serve as your spokesman. I want it known the length and breadth of this land that if I am stopped this movement will not stop. If I am stopped our work will not stop. For what we are doing is right. What we are doing is just. And God is with us.” (Pg. 80)
Like any true movement doing what is right is not reserved to specific individuals. The leaders of this movement can be removed from the movement and the movement will continue. The "leaders" are simply used to get the movement started. The righteous ideas that fuel the purpose of the movement.
The question that I am left with it this: What is the forefront of your heart and your life? What ideas do you associate with and are you allowing God to strengthen your work?
“I'm not going to put my ultimate faith in the little gods that can be destroyed in an atomic age, but in the God who has been our help in ages past, and our hope for years to come, and our shelter in the time of the storm, and our eternal home. That's the God that I'm putting my ultimate faith in….The God that I'm talking about this morning is the God of the universe and the God that will last through the ages. If we are to go forward this morning, we've got to look back and find that God. That is the God that demands and commands our ultimate allegiance.” (Pg. 32)
This quote is a great look at King's faith in God. Too many times we overlook the fact that he was a pastor and a preacher. A man with a deep upbringing in the church and a personal relationship with God. His entire involvement in the Civil Rights Movement stemmed from his biblical belief and faith in God. He moved forward in his work because he felt that it was God's will for his life.
“The Negro who experiences bitter and agonizing circumstances as a result of some ungodly white person is tempted to look upon all white person as evil, if he fails to look beyond his circumstances. But the minute he looks beyond his circumstances and sees the whole situation, he discovers that some of the most implacable and vehement advocates of racial equally are consecrated white persons.” (Pg. 48)
When King spoke these words in 1955 at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church there had to be a trace of personal discovery here due to the fact that he faced this choice early in his life. Over the years he has seen the error of his ways and has grown to be able to confidently make this statement.
“Many Negros felt that integration could come only through legislation and court action-the chief emphases of the NAACP. Many white people felt that integration could come only through education-the chief emphases of the Council on Human Relations……On the contrary, I felt that both approaches were necessary. Through education we seek to change attitudes and internal feelings (Prejudice, hate, etc.); through legislation and court order we seek to to regulate behavior.” (Pg 51)
The first half of this statement is background. I really focused on the second half. I believe that it is important for us as people to tackle injustice from two points of view; from the educational side, in order to educate the next generation on the the views and errors of their predecessors. Also, we must bring change through the establishment of new laws. I believe this is still an affective methods to conquer today's challenges in our society and in our schools.
Anthony K. Giesick
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