Here we are, at the beginning of the New Year of 2019 and the annual January celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. The effort to honor Dr. King with a U. S. federal holiday began four days after his assassination. But it took more than 15 years for it to happen. Here are some of my personal insights regarding Dr. King and how I related to him and his Ministry to the world.
In 1968 when Rev King was murdered, my name was Elaine Thomas and I was in my early twenties. I was born in the North, New Jersey to be specific. I am mentioning this because during my childhood, I only heard about the plight of the people of color in the South. (I use the expression people of color because people of African descent are of many hues and colors of brown. They are not black! Just like Caucasians are not white.) I remember at young ages, my siblings and I saying we would never travel below the Mason Dixon Line. Much of that statement was rooted in fear. Fear that we would be treated in the same inhumane ways we saw people of color being treated in the South. Of course, I realize it is all relative. I was still very young when the lunch counters at Woolworth's stores in the North would not serve people of color.
Although people from the Northeast constantly traveled to the Southeast where they had relatives and connections, that was not my experience. The farthest south my immediate family traveled was to Berlin, South Jersey. My awareness level of Dr. Martin Luther King was more distant than I care to admit. But during the last four years of Dr. King's active non-violent protests, I became more and more aware of the need for his protests and they touched something within me. I became more aware of the reality of my own history and my own experience of bias, prejudice and racism against me.
Dr. King was prolific. His writing was poetic, descriptive and lyrical. Dr. King's, I Have A Dream speech during the March on Washington was full of feeling, meaning and heart. That speech spoke for and to thousands of people. It spoke to those who attended and to those, who like me, wished they had attended this historical event. But, at that time, I did not have any connections to those happenings nor did I know people who had those connections.
I want to look briefly at two separate sentences from the first half of Dr. King's speech. The "I have a dream" part of his speech was the second half of the speech. In the first half of Dr. King's speech, he sets the stage beautifully for the dynamic and emotional second half. He says in the first half of the speech "Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood." Here it is fifty-five years later and our nation is still stuck in the quicksand of racial injustice. Who is going to answer the call of getting us out of the quicksand of racial injustice by practicing the kind of LOVE that creates the solid rock of brotherhood. For me, God is the LOVE and Jesus Christ is the Solid Rock upon which we can stand to be national and international world changers.
A few paragraphs later, Dr. King said "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred." Today it appears that so many are drinking from that cup full of bitterness and hatred. We are losing our concrete examples and brave models of LOVE in action. I hope we will stop in our tracks this part of our journeys, and consider what our own part should be as advocates for 'justice and freedom' for all of God's children.
We have been called to the ministry of 'Reconciliation'. What areas of our own lives need to be reconciled? With whom do we need to be reconciled? We cannot do any of this without God's Love in our hearts and then spread it to others in our lives and those who cross our path. Love/God, knowledge and wisdom will lead us to the right paths.
I close in agreement with Dr. King when he said, "Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive." Do not be weary in doing well, for we shall reap if we do not faint; so, take courage, take heart and move forward.
Elaine J. Jacobs – Elaine Jacobs is a talented leader whose ministry encompasses a rich spiritual life with a solid community volunteer component. Her strengths include financial planning, teaching, counseling mentoring and an intuitive facilitator.
Elaine is currently actively retired and is actively involved in various ministries at her church, The Crossing LV in Nevada. She is also an active elder in The Cross Ministry Group of CO. She has a B. S. in Management from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. In addition, Elaine attended the New York Theological Seminary.
As part of her ministry, she speaks both formally and informally. Elaine teaches on everyday issues of practical Christian living, resolving family conflicts, goal setting and many others. Elaine has shared her beliefs and spiritual guidance as part of a prison ministry and on mission trips to Malawi, Africa and Taipei, Taiwan. Elaine is a comforting, nurturing woman who seeks to help all those with whom she comes in contact.