Monday, January 15, 2007

Everybody Can Be Great

Development of the Dreamer
Martin Luther King Jnr., was born on this day (January 15) in 1929 at the family home in Auburn Avenue Atlanta, Georgia. He was the first son and second child born to Alberta and Rev. Martin Luther King Snr.

Growing up in Georgia, Martin suffered those experiences of discrimination that demoralize and outrage human dignity. He recalls the curtains that were used on the dining cars of trains to separate white from black. "I was very young when I had my first experience in sitting behind the curtain," he said. "I felt as if a curtain had come down across my whole life. The insult of it I will never forget."

I remember riding with him [my father] when he accidentally drove past a stop sign. A policeman pulled up to the car and said, "All right, boy, pull over and let me see your license."

My father replied indignantly, "I'm no boy." Then pointing to me, "This is a boy. I'm a man and until you call me one, I will not listen to you." The policeman was so shocked that he wrote the ticket up nervously and left the scene as quickly as possible.
With this heritage, it is not surprising that I had... learned to abhor segregation, considering it both rationally inexplicable and morally unjustifiable.

On another occasion, he and his school teacher were riding a bus from Macon to Atlanta when the driver ordered them to give up their seats to white passengers. "When we didn't move right away, the driver started cursing us out and calling us black sons of bitches. I decided not to move at all, but my teacher pointed out that we must obey the law. So we got up and stood in the aisle the whole 90 miles to Atlanta. It was a night I'll never forget. I don't think I have ever been so deeply angry in my life."

It so often that a dream comes to us through pain, through some event, some situation we have a burden for. Yours might be a burden for young people, for street kids, for people who are wasting their lives away thru drugs, for people who can't secure jobs and are bored stiff. Do you have a real burden for some group of people? Do you find yourself weeping for people? Let God use that pain that it might be a catalyst for some dream that he wants you to possess.

Qualifications for Service
Martin Luther King had a university training but he was later to talk about the qualifications for serving God. Perhaps he had Rosa Parkes in mind when he said:

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve.
You don't have to have a college degree to serve.
You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.
You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve.
You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

Within hours, the black Americans were embarked upon a bus boycott that almost ruined the bus company. Martin Luther King Jnr., was elected the President of the Boycott committee. Montgomery was one of the first great battles won by the blacks in the South and it all began when a woman refused to stand up.

Death of the Dreamer
The next morning (4 April 1968) Dr King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. His funeral services were held on 9 April 1968 in Atlanta at the Ebenezer Baptist church and on the campus of Morehouse College with the President of the United States proclaiming a day of mourning.

The area where King was entombed is located on Freedom Plaza at the Martin Luther King Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change. On his grave are the words, "Free at last."

The door of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis has the inscription, "Martin Luther King Jnr., 1929-1968 followed with Ralph Abernathy's funeral text from Genesis, "Here Comes the Dreamer let us Kill Him."

Today we remember the birth of Martin Luther King Jnr., the dreamer. We also recognize that while people can kill the dreamer they cannot kill God's dream.

Geoff Pound

Image: Martin Luther King Jnr.