Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At the 1963 rally that drew over 200,000 people from around the country, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Today, the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial will culminate with a speech by President Obama at the same location where Dr. King spoke 50 years ago.
By now, I imagine all of us have heard or read part or all of Dr. King’s inspiring speech. We have seen the stark black and white photos of the sea of people on the national mall. We have looked in the eyes of the marchers as they walked hand in hand or carried signs advocating for jobs, voting rights, and the end to segregation. We have seen looks of determination, joy, and hope.
While we are reflecting on this milestone, I invite you to remember another important 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement. On April 16, 1963,
Dr. King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” It may not be as famous as his “I Have a Dream” speech. But it is a beautifully written letter that challenges us all to consider how we would react if confronted with injustice.
Dr. King was responding to a newspaper published statement entitled “A Call for Unity” that was signed by eight prominent Alabama Christian and Jewish leaders.
In his letter, Dr. King addresses our interdependence. He writes that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He addresses the urgency of the movement when he says, “We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’”
Dr. King distinguishes between just and unjust laws. He quotes St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” He defines a just law as one that conforms to the “Law of God.”
I encourage you to observe today’s anniversary by reading Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” at http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/document/letter-birmingham-city-jail-0#. It starts on page 3. His words and life challenge us not to remain silent in the face of injustice. He faithfully demonstrates “the more excellent way of love,” the Way of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, love incarnate.Blessings, Lee
But the Lord said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”