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Benediction for the MLK Jr. Breakfast

January 16, 2012

It is tempting to say one more thing about Dr. King.  For he was an extraordinary man who, as the spokesperson of the movement, became the conscience of our nation.   

But you know, Dr. King didn’t do it all.  If there had only been Dr. King, and no Vernon Johns, would the Dexter Avenue Church have run him out in a year?  If there had only been Dr. King and no Jo Ann Robinson would there have been a Montgomery bus boycott?  If there had only been Dr. King and no Ella Baker, would the students at the Woolworth Counter have been able to muster enough support to build SNCC?  If there had only been Dr. King and no Diane Nash, would there have been the freedom rides?  If there had only been Dr. King and no Bob Moses, would thousands of African Americans across the south have dared to put their lives on the line to register to vote?  If there had been only Dr. King and no Septima Clark, would there have been citizenship schools and the capacity for continued growth and commitment?  If there had been only Dr. King and no James Bevel, would the children have marched into fire hoses in Birmingham singing freedom songs?  If there had only been Dr. King and no Rosa Parks, Barbara Johns, James Lawson, Bayard Rustin, Stanley Levinson, Fred Shuttlesworth, Medger Evers, John Lewis, Jim Peck, Harry Belafonte, James Meredith, Ralph Abernathy…the list goes on and on.

I want us to leave this place remembering something that Diane Nash, valiant student leader in SNCC, said, “If people think that it was Martin Luther King’s movement, then today they … are more likely to say, ‘gosh, I wish we had a Martin Luther King here today to lead us.’  If people knew how that movement started, then the question they would ask themselves is, ‘What can I do?’” 

So, having looked to the past and the great cloud of witnesses, including Dr. King, and having provisioned ourselves, we look now to this time and this place.  Let us look at our neighbors around these tables; what just work does God now require of us?  What imagination, skills and courage lie right here in this room? 

And setting our “eyes on the prize” let us go on together, in peace, in justice, and in hope.  Amen.

 

 

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