By Dr. Alveda King
The rescheduled MLK Memorial Dedication in DC last weekend was supercharged with mixed messages and contrasting motives.
For yours truly, one of the most memorable parts of the long-awaited event was a visit to the MLK Construction Trailer, where my mother, Mrs. Naomi Ruth Barber King, wife of my dad, slain civil rights strategist Rev. A. D. King joined other family members in placing items in the MLK Memorial Time Capsule. Mother placed the METAMORPHISIS video complete with the photo of her signature Blue Monarch Butterfly on the front. Mother is called the “Butterfly Queen.” She also included a copy of The Beloved Community Letter, and a copy of my book HOW CAN THE DREAM SURVIVE, with foreword by Father Frank Pavone.
After the Time Capsule, we continued on to REDEEM THE DREAM roundtable discussion at the FRC building near Capitol Hill. Prolife speakers and members of the national community gathered to discuss the state of the prolife movement in America. Peggy Hartshorn of Heartbeat International, Dean Nelson of Care-Net, Day Gardner of National Black Pro-Life Union, Walter Hoye of Issues4Life Institute, and local DC area Pastor John Peyton led the supercharged discussion. Other members of the National Black Pro-life Coalition, Mrs. Naomi King, and other community activists were also in attendance. Then there was a Heartbeat International “Meet and Greet” and the evening ended with a MLK Dedication Gala.
On the morning of the 10/16/11 MLK Dedication Ceremony there were the usual anti-life, anti-family tinged speeches from the Old Guard Civil Rights Community; Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others. In a surprising turn of events, there was an unforgettable moment in human history; President Obama laid aside the political gauntlet to simply remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a man who dedicated his life in service to humanity. I really appreciated the gesture, and President Obama is in my prayers.
His speech, which he delivered in the presence of his wife, children, their grandmother; members of the King Family, and all gathered on that day to remember God’s prophet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was poignant and subdued. First Lady Michelle Obama was there at his side as he stepped to the podium. The Obama family came to show their respect. Their daughters and their grandmother were on the front row watching. This was, after all, a very historic day.
As is always the case, Michelle was poised and lovely. I know that I will be stepping on a sacred cow when I say that she is every bit the fashion pacesetter that Jackie Kennedy was, but it’s true. Her sweater dress was just beautiful.
As President Obama spoke, I reflected on the man and his mission. President Obama sought and won the office of United States President. When he took office, he grasped the rein s of an unruly beast… a rebellious, idolatrous and greedy America… a nation out of control in so many ways.
As one who has been elected to and also appointed to public office, having served in those two capacities once as a Democrat and once as a Republican, I can understand and sympathize with the challenges, the trials and temptations elected and appointed officials face. When special interest lobbies pay into campaign coffers out of deep pockets, the challenges get harder. Do we vote and lead according to our faith or according to our need for campaign dollars. That is a serious question. Many of those who spoke at the MLK Dedication may be faced with these tough questions. Many of the speakers who had their noses buried in speeches written for them or motivated by special interest agents were possibly saying what their financial backers wanted to hear, while struggling with their consciences over the force of compromise. Pray for them. And be ready to vote your convictions, not out of a sense of misplaced loyalty, but vote your values in the hope that you can help to turn the tide back to God’s righteous justice, and pray for deliverance from God’s judgment. I say this because we can make no bones about it, the August 28, 2011 Dedication, in the face of an earthquake, a hurricane and other signs from God all had to do with God’s judgment. Pray for our leaders, including our President.
God wasn’t in the earthquake, or the wind of the hurricane. We must listen for that “still small voice.”
The loudest voices our President hears today are the lobbyists with their megaphones and mega-bucks as they promote population control, abortion, assaults on procreative marriage and family, massive and crippling co-dependent spending policies, and more. Sadly, where the President should be hearing and experiencing God’s Agape love and Christian prayers and subsequently being convinced that there is a way to help America without endorsing the murder of our innocents, he is receiving strong condemnation. This has nothing to do with politics. It’s just that we should vote our Christian convictions, but we should never be hateful to others in the process. Love and votes are not the same thing. I will vote for pro-life, pro-marriage and family candidates, but I will not cease to pray for our opposition, that God will bless them and touch their hearts.
I have been a guest at the White House five times now. The first time was for a reception when President Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill. The second time was for a visit with President Clinton’s education staff. Three and four were during the Bush administration; one for a roundtable meeting with the President and Black leaders, the next was a private tour where I even saw the Oval Office and the door to the “Situation Room.” On visit five, along with my mother, daughter, brother and a whole host of King family members I accepted an invitation to a White House Reception after the MLK Dedication ceremonies. As we walked along the hallways to the suite where the MLK Reception was being held, it was very memorable to see photographs of the Obamas mixed in among the photos of past presidents. In the rooms we passed, there were classic portraits of other Presidents and First Ladies. It was memorable, to say the least.
Once we arrived to the reception, it was very apparent that the “Old Guard” many of whom were in attendance, including some Congressional Black Caucus Members, were surprised to see me there. Their uneasiness was palatable; you could cut it with a knife. After all, I was in “sacred” territory as far as they were concerned. This President is their President, and conservatives are not welcome in their circles. Oh well…
The White House Maitre ’D visited the table where I was seated, and said that it was an honor to have the King Family in attendance. I was invited to take a picture with President and First Lady Obama. She had taken off her sweater, and was in her classic and well toned sleeveless sheath which was really more bell shaped, with fantastic tucks from the waist down. The persimmon color was flattering. As I stood between the couple – who by the way seemed to be well at ease with each other, complete with banter and smiles – I looked to my left and right and remarked… You are really tall people. They both chuckled and the photographer snapped the photo.
I know that President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy were from Boston, not Camelot. And the Obamas are from Chicago, not Zanzibar, but this experience was like Camelot meets Zanzibar, with the magic and mystery of both legends coming together in the White House only for those few hours. I did not forget for even one moment the serious issues facing our nation. I didn’t lose sight of my convictions while I was walking the corridors of the White House.
Did any of this experience cloud my views on voting? Of course not. Come 2012, I will still vote pro-life and procreative marriage and family. This is just a chronicle of events surrounding the dedication of a monument built to honor my uncle.
After the earthquake and hurricane caused the postponement of the previously scheduled August dedication ceremonies, the park is finally officially dedicated. In the afterglow of the pomp and circumstance of the site, the MLK quotes on the 450 foot wall surrounding the Mountain of Despair and Stone of Hope continues to receive scrutiny and praises from visitors.
“This missed opportunity to carve GOD’s Name on the wall still presents another opportunity. In the Old Testament, God carved His commandments on stone and gave them to Moses to give to God’s people. For many, MLK is known as a modern day Moses, a prophet of God. Today, God carves His Word not on stones, but in the hearts of those who believe and receive His Word.
Many people don’t know that Uncle M. L. was a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It stands to reason that they have never heard of his devotion to Jesus Christ and his message of God’s agape love. I wasn’t consulted on the design of the site. Had I been, I would have asked for GOD’s name to be visible there. Still I see this as a teaching moment, an opportunity to encourage people to read King’s sermons.”
My Aunt Christine King Farris, the children of Martin and Coretta and much of the extended family all feel a certain way about all of this. We miss him. He was a gift to the world, and we lost a beloved family member. Aunt Christine says it best: “My brother wouldn’t have wanted all of the fanfare. He wouldn’t have wanted a statue and all of this. We are grateful for your love and support, but M. L. was a humble man.” I would add that he was a humble man, imperfect as humans tend to be. Yet, he loved and served a perfect God!
During the pre-dedication tour, I asked why the name of God wasn’t inscribed in some of the quotes. I was told that the effort was to be global and universal in scope and that the hope was that people would depart the site wanting to know more about Uncle M. L. Remember, in the Old Testament, God carved His Word on stones. Today, His Word is inscribed in the human heart. I don’t see this as a politically correct versus spiritually aware type of issue even though this is a spiritual battle. And earnest prayers can turn the tide. Along without prayers I see this as an opportunity to witness the love of God and to invite people to read Uncle M. L.’s sermons and learn of his ministry.
As to my vote and President Obama, I prefer “policy over politics.” I generally don’t endorse candidates anymore. I believe just after I endorsed Sam Brownback in his presidential bid, God directed me to “stop endorsing and start praying.” Since then, I have prayed for the success of many friends who have “thrown their hats in the ring.” It is a blessing to vote for and support friends who are candidates, though. Most recently, my good friend Herman Cain is a candidate. I am praying for his success.
My political views are different from the President’s in that I am pro-life and support procreative marriage, while President Obama supports programs that seem to favor anti-life efforts, with Planned Parenthood being at the top of the list. So I will surely cast my vote in the coming election on the life side.
One final question: Do we condemn them or win them? The ultimate goal isn’t political office; it is reaching everyone with God’s love. Vote our values, love our enemies, bless those we encounter… I Corinthians 13:8 says it best. Love never fails. What would Jesus do? God bless…