January 19, 2009 | 9 comments

The way we honor Martin Luther King Day, around here, is we post his words, usually the text of his letter from Birmingham Jail.

Other T&S MLK posts include
Ardis Parshall on MLK’s visit to Deseret,
and his speech, a Knock at Midnight;

My own experience with MLK is pretty limited. I didn’t grow up in those times and I’m not black or southern. Sure, we sung a haunting jody about MLK in boot camp, but that’s it.

On the other hand, in the Romney campaign when we kept trying to work out our place in America, we kept bringing up MLK. Mormonism, like black America, is one of the distinctly American ethnicities that found itself without a full place at the table. See Romney’s faith speech and one of my favorite posts, suggestions from around the Bloggernacle on what the faith speech should say. MLK is a synecdoche for an important part of the American story, a part that applies to us also, and to many others.

Here’s part of my own suggestion:

In the beginning of our American history, the Pilgrims came to these shores fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They felt that God had guided them here. They vowed that they would try to be worthy of his purposes. They vowed to make America a shining city on a hill, an example to the whole world.

For all our history we Americans have fought to be that shining city on the hill. In the words of our pledge of allegiance, we have fought to provide liberty and justice for all.

We Americans have not always succeeded. But when we have, I sincerely believe that we succeeded because—again quoting from our pledge of allegiance—we recognized that we were one nation under God.

Long ago in the Declaration of Independence we acknowledged that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and now we live in a country where those rights are respected.”

Our first President, George Washington, asked all Americans to give thanks to God for our blessings. We still do that every Thanksgiving. And now we are richly blessed with freedom and happiness and strength and prosperity. D

uring the terrible times of the Civil War, our President Abraham Lincoln, promised that no matter what happened we would see God’s justice in the outcome. And now we are one people once again and have put those terrible divisions behind us.

The Reverend Martin Luther King and other southern preachers, and civil rights workers of Jewish and other faiths, showed us the sins of racism and discrimination we were committing. And now we have faced those sins and done much to repent of them.

Today let us honor the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. His sins were his own, his virtues and his accomplishments are America’s and the ages’. The oppressed have helped to redeem the oppressor.

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9 Responses to MLK Day

  1. Rob Perkins on January 19, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but I don’t know of another way to reach you, Adam.

    Two recent postings of yours (“Lint-free” and “Man’s Nature”) appeared in my RSS feed for this site, but the links provided get redirected to the home page, and the home page in turn does not contain references to your postings.

    The first two sentences were very interesting, and I wanted to finish reading them. Is something technically wrong, or did you withdraw the postings?

  2. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    “Man’s Nature” got posted accidentally–it isn’t finished yet. “Lint-free” was posted prematurely and will be posted later this afternoon. I apologize.

  3. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    IN a recent survey, 2/3′s of blacks said that the dream is fulfilled.

    Expect the number to drop off this high, but still interesting.

  4. kevinf on January 19, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks, Adam. Reading his words is a great way to remember Dr. King. I was just a teenager, but remember well seeing him many times on TV, and in particular that awful day in 1968 when he was shot and killed. I got to hear Andrew Young, who was on the balcony that day, in person at the University of Utah, and also Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, during the 1980′s in Salt Lake.

    We have had many great men to learn from in this country, and we need to remember them all. Dr. King’s work, like so many others, has made great progress, but is not yet done. Regardless of our politics, I think we can all look forward to tomorrow and say that one more goal has been accomplished. Also, interesting to see you link Dr. King with Romney’s failed presidential bid, which points out some of the work still to be completed.

    Thanks for this post.

  5. manaen on January 19, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    The oppressed have helped to redeem the oppressor.
    And so truly following Christ’s example.
    Is it possible that like Christ , LDS, Blacks, and other oppressed groups suffer so they’ll learn how to heal their oppressors and in so doing become themselves more Christ-like?

  6. greenfrog on January 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    The oppressed have helped to redeem the oppressor.

    Lovely expression, Adam.

  7. Julie M. Smith on January 19, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    “His sins were his own, his virtues and his accomplishments are America’s and the ages’.”

    I love this.

  8. Martin Willey on January 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    “His sins were his own, his virtues and his accomplishments are America’s and the ages’.”

    This very much expresses my feelings regarding Dr. King, and many others of our great leaders. Thank you, Adam.

  9. Rameumptom on January 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I grew up in western Montana, not understanding the Civil Rights movement. The Air Force placed me in Montgomery, AL for 16 1/2 years, where as ward mission leader and in the stake mission presidency, we started taking the gospel to the black people in 1987. The racism of many of the members stunned me, as I’d never experienced it before.

    After years of integrating, the Montgomery Stake now is in a good place, where black members are serving in all levels of leadership. The Tuskegee branch, of which I was their first group leader before it became a branch, is still filled with great friends and memories.

    While I can never fully understand the plight of the African-American, being a Mormon who has felt discrimination on many occasions has helped me to empathize. And for me, Dr Martin Luther King jr’s dream is still alive. I am glad that Barak Obama will serve as president, and hope he has a successful presidency, so that the dream continues, and isn’t shut down due to incompetence or bad choices.


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