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by Star Parker

Remarks of Robert Kennedy on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 April 1968, Indianapolis, Indiana Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some — some very sad news for all of you — Could you lower those signs, please? — I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.

Statement from Star Parker

“Things will continue to get worse until every single American from every single background understands there is no freedom and there is no peace without commitment to God-given truths which are the only truths that can put back together and mend broken vessels.”

 

Star Parker

by JOE CARTER

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a United States federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. Here are 9 things you should know about MLK:

1. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968, but Martin Luther King, Jr. Day did not become a U.S federal holiday until Ronald Reagan begrudgingly signed the holiday into law in 1983. (Reagan was concerned that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive.) Only two other persons have U.S. national holidays honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

2. King’s literary and rhetorical masterpiece was his 1963 open letter “The Negro Is Your Brother,” better known as the “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The letter, written while King was being held for a protest in the city, was a response to a statement made by eight white Alabama clergymen titled “A Call for Unity.” An editor at the New York Times Magazine, Harvey Shapiro, asked King to write his letter for publication in the Magazine, though the Times chose not to publish it.

3. While much of King’s philosophy of nonviolence was derived from Christian — especially Anabaptist — sources, a significant influence was the work of Indian leader Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. While in seminary King’s gave a presentation he prepared for a class entitled “Christian Theology for Today,” in which he included Gandhi as one of a number of figures he identified as “individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God.”

4. In 1964, King became the second African American — and the third black man — to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

5. In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he voted for John F. Kennedy and that if the president had lived he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term. But it was JFK’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who issued a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital affairs and reported on them to government officials, and mailed King a threatening anonymous letter that he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide. While King was in jailed in Birmingham, JFK’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, even called Coretta Scott King to express her concern—neither of them realizing the phone was being tapped.

For the rest of the post…

In previous posts, we began to answer the question if Dietrich Bonhoeffer should be considered a “martyr” in the traditional way that Christians understand martyrdom? Craig J. Slane, in his book, Bonhoeffer as Martyrwrote that…

…Since 1945, it has become fashionable in various religious contexts to esteem Bonhoeffer with the title martyr. The enthusiasm continues. On 9 July 1998 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was memorialized along with nine other martyrs of the twentieth century at Westminster Abbey. Statues of the ten were unveiled and now stand in the abbey’s west portal. Those included with Bonhoeffer are the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, Manche Masemola of South Africa, Licuinan Tapeidi of Papua New Guinea, Maximillian Kolbe of Poland, Esther John of Pakistan, Martin Luther King Jr. of the United States, Wang Zhiming of China, Janani Luwum of Uganda, and Oscar Romero of El Salvador (31).

 

Dr, Martin Luther King Jr.

The Good Society and the Moral Law

More than forty years ago, on August 28, 1963, a quarter million people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. They marched here for the cause of civil rights. And that day they heard Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, a speech in which he challenged America to fulfill her promise.

“I have a dream,” he said, “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’ ”

While we know of the speech, most people are unaware that King also penned one of the most eloquent defenses of the moral law: the law that formed the basis for his speech, for the civil rights movement, and for all of the law, for that matter.

In the spring of 1963, King was arrested for leading a series of massive non-violent protests against the segregated lunch counters and discriminatory hiring practices rampant in Birmingham, Alabama. While in jail, King received a letter from eight Alabama ministers. They agreed with his goals, but they thought that he should call off the demonstrations and obey the law.

King explained why he disagreed in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “One might well ask,” he wrote, “how can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer “is found in the fact that there are two kinds of laws: just laws … and unjust laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws,” King said, “but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobeyunjust laws.”

How does one determine whether the law is just or unjust? A just law, King wrote, “squares with the moral law of the law of God. An unjust law … is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Then King quoted Saint Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.” He quoted Thomas Aquinas: “An unjust law is a human law not rooted in eternal or natural law.”

This is the great issue today in the public square: Is the law rooted in truth? Is it transcendent, immutable, and morally binding? Or is it, as liberal interpreters argue, simply whatever courts say it is? Do we discover the law, or do we create it?

Many think of King as a liberal firebrand, waging war on traditional values. Nothing could be further from the truth. King was a great conservative on this central issue, and he stood on the shoulders of Augustine and Aquinas, striving to restore our heritage of justice rooted in the law of God.

Were he alive today, I believe he’d be in the vanguard of the pro-life movement. I also believe that he would be horrified at the way in which out of control courts have trampled down the moral truths he advocated.

From the time of Emperor Nero, who declared Christianity illegal, to the days of the American slave trade, from the civil rights struggle of the sixties to our current battles against abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and same-sex “marriage,” Christians have always maintained exactly what King maintained.

King’s dream was to live in harmony with the moral law as God established it. So this Martin Luther King Day, reflect on that dream—for it is worthy of our aspirations, our hard work, and the same commitment Dr. King showed.

FURTHER READING AND INFORMATION

Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

Read the text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Visit the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute website.

St. Augustine, City of God (Penguin Classics reprint, 2003)

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