Continue the ‘dream’

Published 11:33 am Monday, January 16, 2017

Some local churches and other organizations honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by conducting special services and events in and around the anniversary of his birthday.

Unfortunately, these services only reach a few congregations – “preaching to the choir” as the old saying goes.

Dr. King was a preacher and it is, therefore, more than right that churches recall the good work he did as a man of God, but there was also a secular component to Dr. King’s message that seems to get lost in celebrations in this region.

There is a Constitutional mandate that keeps church and state separate in the country. This separation was put into the Constitution by visionaries that knew the only way to ensure freedom of religion was to prevent government from tampering with religious beliefs and practices.

Some of the ramifications of this separation may not be popular, but the very reason they can be unpopular is because the Constitution forbids the government from tampering with anyone’s religion.

Dr. King waged peaceful warfare against Segregation from two fronts – both the religious and secular.

As a man of God, Dr. King’s non-violent resistance was rooted in the moral certainty he and millions of other Christians find in the teachings of Jesus – “Turn the other cheek” and “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.”

It was this moral certainty – taking the high ground in the struggle – that earned peaceful protestors respect from most Americans, even from some of those who were solidly against desegregation.

Their religious beliefs and the superior moral ground upon which they stood gave Dr. King and those engaged in the struggle for true freedom the strength and resolve to carry on, peacefully, even when some of their numbers were jailed, beaten and murdered.

But the Civil Rights Movement was about changing the law.

Their strength of purpose may have come from religious conviction, but their mission was secular – change the laws of the land; attack the warped governmental system that allowed slavery to flourish in this nation (which was founded on the principle that freedom and equality are fundamental rights) and which allowed segregation to divide the nation into a class system that took freedom from people simply because of their skin tone.

Because the mission was secular, King Day celebrations should not be confined to church ceremonies.

We should celebrate the life of Dr. King and those who “continue the dream” in open forums, places accessible to all people, rich and poor, black and white, young and old.

We encourage the citizens of our local area to attend events held in Dr. King’s memory. When they end, don’t let the “dream” stop…continue to espouse Dr. King’s legacy by becoming caring, compassionate people working within their communities to help those who need help and to make improvements, great and small.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald