So today is Martin Luther King Day, a day in which we remember the late great Rev. Dr. King. Doctor King was Baptist preacher, a civil rights activist, a philosopher, and living symbol of non-violent protest all rolled up into one man. He is remembered primarily for his civil rights work, but he also stood for social justice and the long held belief that all men are created equal in God’s image. His death was tragic, but in both his life and death he spurred racial and social progress forward and for that he is fondly remembered today by most.
Now I tend to avoid talking politics (and will continue to do so in the future) but recently news broke that President Obama was going to swear into office for his second term using the Bible of Dr. King. Now when this news broke it didn’t sit well with me because in my mind it was taking Dr. King’s legacy and using it as a prop to celebrate President Obama’s second term.
Now President Obama and I disagree on many issues but that’s not the point of this post. Like Peter once said:
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
-1 Peter 2:17
Though I disagree with many of Obama’s policies this is not about him or his administration. This is about the Legacy of Dr. King.
Now Dr. Cornel West is a man who by all accounts I should not like, but I do immensely. He is pretty much my political opposite (He’s a Socialist and I’m a Libertarian), but his ongoing desire for social justice and human rights for all fueled by his love of Jesus Christ makes him one of my favorite radicals. I bring him up because I found his take on the whole President Obama/Dr. King story enlightening:
I think we can all take a lesson from Dr. King’s example today and remember to stand up against injustice and practice love towards everyone. Let us not use his legacy as a prop that does nothing but give us a feel good vibe. Instead let us use his legacy to inspire us to stand up for those who are being oppressed today. Perhaps God has called you to stand up for the homeless in your town, the millions of unborn victims of abortion, the shamed and abandoned homosexuals and transvestite without families, the mentally handicapped or physically disabled, the poor and starving around the world, or the innocent victims of war and violence.
This world needs heroes to stand up and be a voice for those who have none. This is what Christ did with his time on this world and it is that legacy that Dr. King took up and passed on to us. Now it’s our time to take the legacy of those who came before us and do something with it. So let us be inspired by this man’s legacy and have it drive us to be better, to love better, and to fight the good fight. Otherwise we have resigned his legacy to a mere prop, never spearing us onward towards anything greater, never igniting a desire for justice, never inspiring us to love and fight for those who need our help.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
– Matthew 25:34-40
Happy MLK Day, let’s make it one that Dr. King would be proud of.