by Valora Starr
Today is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s actual birthday and the federal holiday. Some are excited about today because there’s no school or work or because it’s a “day of service” or leisure with no recollection or connection to who he is, the civil rights movement, and Dr. King’s dream. Has the dream faded? Do we even remember what the dream is?
It’s clear one day isn’t enough to move the dream forward, but here’s a reason to get started. Our brother Martin is the only American nationally recognized for living his faith. As disciples, this should motivate us to use this holiday to dig deep into his speeches and books, looking at every word that leads us back to the actions of Jesus.
I am in awe of how much he accomplished as a young husband, father, pastor with a congregation, community leader, author, and prophet. And there is more to him than his “I Have a Dream” speech. His daily ministry, message and platform included poverty, racial equality, class, the economy, violence, and love.
WHAT WOULD MARTIN SAY?
What would young 39-year-old Martin say to us today? Would love still be the answer to ending the ills of poverty, racial and economic inequality, hatred and violence that he spoke of in his dream?
What would 95-year-old elder Martin say to us today about the immigrant crisis, race hate, political divisiveness, the nastiness that has been accepted behavior along with poverty, racial equality, class, the economy, and violence? Would love still be the answer? What would that love look like today?
It has been 56 years since he was assassinated, and it feels like we have lost our way in overcoming most of his ideas that were urgent from 1956-1968. Is any of this still urgent?
My answer to whether the dream has faded is no. Is it still urgent? Yes.
For disciples, no is always the answer to a faded dream. This dream is why Jesus came. And yes, to the urgency of what calls us back to the actions of Jesus.
Today, I’m having lunch with some folks to invite them to join me in planning 11 more actions—one per month–as my answer to these questions. The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change can help you with your planning. Will you join me?
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship for Women of the ELCA.