On this day, August 28th in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered a speech at the March on Washington that has become one of the greatest of recorded history. Entitled “I Have A Dream“, he rallied the people in the name of God to stand against racial injustice.
The expression of ideas as never been safe. Though we proudly espouse our freedom of speech, we likewise find its limits quickly. In some circumstances, speaking against popular beliefs and mores can get you ostracized. In other cases it can get you killed. The church is no exception. Through the centuries, many people have been martyred for their words, only to be canonized later.
In the speech he said:
When we allow freedom to ring-when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Literature, Liturgy & The Arts
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
STRENGTH TO LOVE by Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. published five books in his lifetime; a sixth was released after he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 at the age of thirty-nine. They are all seminal works for American Christians. Stride Toward Freedom (1958) tells the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Measure of a Man (1959) is a slim volume explaining the theological and philosophical roots of nonviolent activism. Why We Can’t Wait (1964) is a history of the civil rights movement in general, and the 1963 Birmingham Campaign in particular. This book includes his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which was addressed to eight clergymen and urged the church to join the struggle for racial justice. King’s 1967 book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, is a clear-eyed look at the state of race relations at a moment when the civil rights movement was in disarray. The book also makes a provocative connection between the bankrupt ideology of systemic discrimination and the literal impoverishment of millions of Americans, white and black. The five speeches that make up The Trumpet of Conscience, published posthumously in 1968, link the evils of poverty, militarism, and racism and call for nothing less than a nonviolent revolution.
Dan Gibson, Jordan Green, and John Pattison, Besides the Bible: 100 Books That Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012).