Marching Ahead as the Dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Lives On

The many events this week locally and throughout the nation to remember Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 50th anniversary of his assassination with prayer services, rallies and symposia are only a small indication of the lasting and powerful mark he left in our country. Like many earth-shattering incidents, for those who are old enough I imagine you remember where you were when you learned of his death and then lived through the period of violence and unrest that followed.

For others, this 50th anniversary is really a history lesson, something for which they have no living memory, but rather have heard stories and have studied it in school. Marking such events give us an opportunity to appreciate the power of a dream and also ask, as many have this week:  Where are we now, 50 years later?  Where do we go from here?

At the historic 1963 March on Washington, Dr. King famously said that he had a dream of racial justice and a faith that “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”  Sadly, it is true that this dream is not fully realized.  Yet Dr. King also often said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

With Dr. King’s legacy, we have a reference point for how we confront racism with the conviction that in some personal ways we can help to resolve it.  “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead,” he said. “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,” the dream lives on.  Is not that one reason why national marches are such an important part of civic life?  For many, it is a step in taking personal responsibility to be part of a solution.

As Dr. King had the ability to draw people of all faiths together, his message has particular resonance in the Christian community because we know that divisions among people based on the color of one’s skin or ethnic background are not part of God’s plan. God intends for all of his sons and daughter to live in harmony and when faced with situations that deny the dignity of the human person or the common good, we must work to heal the wounds and transform society. This can only fully be done with God’s grace and so Christians have a particular responsibility to respond to Christ’s love, which calls us to action.