I share his dream

 
 

I made his words my own today because this week is especially tender for our nation. Dr. King, I honor you today. Or at least I’m trying. I woke up to read and re-read this speech and this is the result…

I am sad to comment today in what will go down in history as a revealing week for the state of the American Church and for our country. Apparently, black lives do not matter.

Many years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of African Americans who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred and fifty four years later, we must face the tragic fact that African Americans are still not free. One hundred and fifty four years later, the life of the African American is still sadly crippled by the manacles of revised resolutions and the death of discrimination. One hundred and fifty four years later, African Americans live on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred and fifty four years later, my African American brothers and sisters still languishing in the corners of American society and finds themselves an exile in their own land. So I’m posting today to dramatize an appalling condition.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men and now all women would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America and many churches has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given African Americans a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But I refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. I refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation and especially within the community of faith. Now is the time to cash the check -- a check that will give all upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. I’m also posting today to remind Christians of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of injustice to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of Christian siblingship.

It would be fatal for the nation and our churches to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of all justice seekers. Two thousand seventeen is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that my African American brothers and sisters needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business and worship as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until African Americans experience citizenship rights and kingdom rights. The whirlwinds of resistance will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

I am not unmindful that I’m awakening to this while most of my African American friends are fatigued by decades of injustice. You face great trials and tribulations my white privilege has protected me from. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to your faith and civic sectors, go back to your families, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still share MLK’s dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the gospel of Christ.

A dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed that all people are created equal.

A dream that one day all the bereaved mothers of Twin Cities will be able to sit down together at a table of siblingship with police officers.

A dream that one day resolutions against alt-right will not need editing.

A dream that all our sons and daughters will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I share MLK’s dream today.

A dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to my work. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood and sisterhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Let today be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation (or great again) this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old African American spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Kat Armstrong