What King Means To Me!

Posted by Unknown Monday, January 20, 2014

When I worked in Southeast Washington as Executive Director of a coalition of churches, each year we would be called upon to provide the corpus of the March for the King Holiday. It was a distinct honor to play that small role in an overarching strategy to achieve a national holiday in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.'s honor. I remember well that fateful day when after much organizing we launched the 20th year Anniversary of the March on Washington in 1983. My sister born in 1968 accompanied me as a Field Marshall for the event and landed a front row position to hear Mr. Stevie Wonder play for the first time "Happy Birthday" in honor of Dr. King. The pressure for the national holiday was so great that President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law which took effect two years later in 1985.

Locally during that same organizing period of time, Griot Mary Carter Smith, led a effort for the community not to spend a penny on January 15th, the actual day of King's birthday. While the effort was symbolic, it was directly at focusing our attention on avoiding the commercialization of his holiday and to make it a day of reflection and positive action.

I made it a point during my career to do something socially significant to commemorate King's birthday. This year I announced to the members of Union Baptist Church yesterday, our church would hold a Jobs Sunday on February 23, 1014. On that Sunday we would have a major employer attend church with their senior human resources staff. After service they would take applications and interview attendees who are looking for employment. The commitment I have with them is to hire 100 persons based upon the recommendation I will provide. I can imagine the attendance in church that Sunday. So many people are looking for employment and need a job.

Clearly economic disparity, full employment and ending poverty was on Dr. King's radar screen. He preached about it and talked about those issues often. He was pristine clear in his final sermon, "I've Been to the Mountain Top," to say that we should use the tool of economic boycott so people who are discriminating against us can feel economic pain. He also affirmed that we should spend out money with businesses who are supportive of our issues and concerns.

As I ponder the question what does King mean to me,  he means that my witness in ministry and my preaching of the Gospel must be a tool in the liberation movement of people and pointed directly towards addressing injustice balanced by love for humankind.



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