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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Words to remember – and to live! – from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

These quotations from Martin Luther King, Jr. (and lots of others, too) are gathered on the ProgressiveValues website of Phyllis Stenerson, of Minneapolis, MN  Many thanks, Phyllis!


"We must move forward in the days ahead with audacious faith. The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice."


"A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world....

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us....

We must move past indecision to action. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves in the long and bitter, but beautiful struggle for a new world...."

from "Beyond Vietnam" - an address delivered to the Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, at Riverside Church, New York City on April 4, 1967

For more quotations from King >>

If you have thoughts about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or commentary from other people, that you'd like to share here, just send 'em along!  I'll post them just as soon as I can.
Economic equality was a part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream

Bruce Newman writes in the Mercury News that while Martin Luther King is remembered and celebrated most as the great leader of the movement for civil rights, he was killed in Memphis, where he was supporting the labor struggle of black sanitation workers to move into the middle class.

He continues:

But 44 years later, economic justice remains elusive for many Americans. While poverty gradually declined in the decades since King's death -- 32.4 million Americans lived below the threshold in 1986, the year the King holiday was first celebrated -- the numbers have climbed in recent years as the economy soured.

Today, as the nation celebrates MLK Day for the 27th time, 46.2 million of its people have slid into the misery that King spent his final years fighting, with blacks experiencing the highest rate of any group: 27 percent.

"I'm sure that would cause him anguish," said Taylor Branch, author of America in the King Years, the Pulitzer Prize-winning trilogy that spans King's transformation from preacher to prophet. "But he never spoke of poverty in purely racial terms. King said poverty is no respecter of persons or race."


And for more detailed thoughts on the links between the thoughts, words and actions of MLK and our current economic troubles, click here for “Today's Visionary: An Illustrated Guide To Dr. King's 21st Century Insights.” This brief essay by Richard (RJ) Eskow connects statements by King to specific economic data and issues of today.

He writes:

One year ago I listed ten quotes by Dr. King, and mourned the lack of a movement that would advance his kind of vision. Then came the uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, which began a long-overdue national debate about economic, as well as racial inequality.

Once again, Dr. King's insights provide offer insight and vision for today's movement activists - and tomorrow's.

"I Have a Dream" Litany

For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day


One:    In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "I have a dream... I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

ALL:    We have a dream that all children will live in a world where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation but by the content of their character.

One:     "I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama ... will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers."

ALL:      We have a dream that one day little Protestant boys and girls will be able to join hands with little Catholic boys and girls in Northern Ireland; that little Jewish boys and girls and little Palestinian boys and girls will be able to join hands in the Holy Land; that little Christian boys and girls will be able to join hands with little Muslim boys and girls everywhere and walk together as sisters and brothers.

One:       "I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream... (that one day) all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, 'My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my (parents) died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.'"

ALL:      Let freedom ring from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem!

One:      "Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!"

ALL:        Let freedom ring from the Antrim Coast cliffs of Northern Ireland!

One:       "Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!"

ALL:       Let freedom ring from the sandhills of the Sudan!

One:      "Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring."

ALL:       "When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village 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! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"

(V. Moss, adapted from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington speech)


The Martin Luther King you don't see

Dear Editor:

Ten years ago Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon wrote "The Martin Luther King you Don
t See" on TV. It is significant that while we are usually only exposed to perfunctory network news we are totally missing the last years of his life. What we hear and read about is his battle for desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

What happened in the years from 1965 to 1968 when he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever? Most of those speeches were filmed or taped, but why are they not shown today?

In the early 1960s, when Dr. King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. But after the passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation
s fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" –including economic rights. King said anti-discrimination laws were hollow for people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home.

So why do we not hear about his Beyond Vietnam speech in 1967 when King called the United States
"the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today?"  Why do we still not hear that the U.S. "was on the wrong side of a world revolution?" He questioned the U.S. suppression of instead of the supporting for revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World. In foreign policy, King offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing in the Third World only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of those countries."

Well the media did know about Kings activities but Time, The Washington Post and others denounced his initiatives including his organizing of the Poor Peoples Campaign to get Congress to enact a poor peoples bill of rights. He saw the need to confront Congress
hostility to the poor while generously funding the military.

How familiar that sounds today with most mass media, Congress and the White House still accepting the perpetuation of poverty.

Dwight Lawton

St. Petersburg, FL


Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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