February is Black History Month, and Monday is the official Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Many positive changes have taken place, and many have not, since his untimely death in 1968. These are some of the words King wrote from the Birmingham jail in 1963 to his fellow clergymen:
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the white citizens’ ‘Councilor’ or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direst action’ who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
It is my prayer that in 2013, clergy and non-clergy alike will take a more active role in building bridges of tolerance and understanding in our community. We have a unique opportunity to build a stronger, more unified county with justice and opportunity for all.
How do you suppose King would view our efforts?
Joan Vining McGovern
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