As a nation commemorates the assassination of a civil rights icon, his message continues to resonate in the hearts and minds of those who lived through that era. It wasn’t just a message of equality for African-Americans, but in a larger context, hope and justice for the oppressed.
A single gunman was able to silence the messenger on that April evening fifty years ago, but not his message.
His message echoed that we’re all created by the same Creator, and as such, deserving of equality and justice.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. – February 4, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia
His vehicle was that of nonviolence.
“Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force…” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As he carried his message on behalf of the oppressed, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked firmly and readied in the truth of God’s word, in shoes clad with the gospel of peace.
And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Eph. 6:15
History is replete with accounts of flawed messengers purporting to represent a religion, ideology, or (may I say it?), God himself.
A most recent example is the embattled Judge Roy Moore, who came a feather’s edge from becoming the next senator from Alabama.
The Bible waving, gun-toting, self-proclaimed purveyor of the Word, who was removed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama for refusing a federal court order to remove a marble monument of the Ten Commandments from a courthouse, found himself facing allegations of pedophilia and sexual misconduct, when he was a young assistant district attorney.
Moore’s message is that “God is the sovereign source of our law”, conflating religion with politics, and ignoring the premise that you cannot legislate obedience to God. What’s most disturbing however, is that the vehicle in which Moore carries his message, is hate and judgement.
… religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions … Thomas Jefferson
As a messenger, Judge Moore was, in many ways, the antithesis of Dr. King.
I will take a wild guess that no one will be commemorating Moore fifty years from now.