“We can’t hate white people. They live with us, march with us, pray with us, and die with us.” Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams (AD) King in 1968
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just when you think you know everything, God sends you back to school. This is definitely the case for me right now. I just returned from the 50th Anniversary of Selma and Bloody Sunday, where my daddy, Rev. A. D. King was among those who were on the bridge that day. President Obama, Congressman John Lewis and thousands of others preceded my visit the day before. The President delivered a rousing and soul stirring speech. In what has become my custom, I delivered a controversial response on FOX NEWS. http://video.foxnews.com/v/4099142696001/
The next day, my daughter Celeste and I boarded a ML King Center bus caravan and headed to Marion, AL , the birthplace of civil rights martyr Jimmie Lee Jackson. We arrived at Mt. Zion Baptist Church and were greeted by Ms. Shirley Jackson, Jimmie Lee’s cousin. We were given the historical account: on February 18, 1965, while participating in a peaceful voting rights march in Marion, Jimmie Lee was beaten by troopers and shot by Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler. Jackson was unarmed. The hospital in Marion denied him treatment, and he was taken to Selma and died eight days later in the hospital there.
His death was part of the inspiration for the Selma to Montgomery marches in March 1965, a major event in the American Civil Rights Movement that helped gain Congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The now historical “Bloody Sunday” opened the door to millions of African Americans being able to vote again in Alabama and across the South, regaining participation as citizens in the political system for the first time since the turn of the 20th century, having been disenfranchised by state constitutions and discriminatory practices.
From there, our bus tour joined the march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On the way out of town later that day, we visited the SCLC Women’s Monument to Viola Luizzo the 39 year old housewife and mother of five who heeded the call of my uncle MLK, and traveled from Detroit, Michigan to Selma, Alabama in the wake of the Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches and helped with coordination and logistics. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. My mother Naomi King later befriended Viola’s daughter. My mother often travels to Selma and visits the memorial site of Viola.
We watched the Oscar winning musical presentation of the song GLORY; a theme song of the SELMA movie. http://youtu.be/c94IFE_cWYQ
We also viewed a screening of the video about Dr. MLK’s leadership role in the SELMA campaign.
Then on the bus, the young students from ML King High School and ML King Middle School gave oral reports of what they had learned on the trip. They learned that the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t about skin color, it was about God’s love for all people, and the need to regard every human being as someone God loves. They learned that many white people along with black people were hurt and killed during the SELMA demonstrations. We all learned a lot.
I was reminded that human rights are about God’s love. That God’s word and God’s way is best. That hate only begets hate. Love never fails. This wasn’t my first visit to Edmund Pettus Bridge. I had joined several prolife colleagues a few years before to observe Bloody Sunday and to remind people that millions of aborted babies would never be allowed to vote. This isn’t a popular part of the memories, but it must be said.
I guess the biggest lesson for me is that it’s time to throw in the deck for the race card, and start using the God card. Freedom after all, is for everyone.