Dr. King Beckons Us:
Beginning a Year of Truth & Transformation
Toward the 50th Anniversary of his Death
April 4, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s prophetic sermon, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” at The Riverside Church in New York.
Fifty years ago our nation was challenged by millions of people who would no longer accept segregation, denial of the right to vote, poverty and the tragic waste of lives and treasure in an immoral, illegal war in Vietnam. Dr. King offered an activist leadership to our efforts to build a just society as well as a prophetic voicing of how we can give real life to the dream of "the Beloved Commmunity."
During the last year of his life, he struggled in the midst of war and governmental abandonment of the poor to create new multiracial, multi-religious coalitions of action -- coalitions rooted in the spiritual vision of a society committed not to "things" but to people.
This was the heart of his prophetic gift to America:
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. . . . . When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. … We are confronted by the fierce urgency of Now.”
Exactly one year after his prophetic speech, he was killed. He did his part and now we must do ours.
As he faced a government obsessed with an immoral and destructive war, today we face the US government's extraordinary efforts to expand the overwhelming wealth and power of the few, and to subjugate the poor, Black and Brown communities, Muslims and oher religious minorities, immigrants, women, those who identify as LGBTQ, those who need medical care, the press, the working and middle class, and even our all-nurturing Mother Earth.
All across America, we can on the weekend from March 31 to April 2 join in churches, synagogus, mosques, and temples; in neighborhood assocations and labor union halls; in schools and colleges -- everywhere! -- to read or listen to and watch the speech and then ask ourselves -- what does this mean today? How can we carry this courage, this wisdom, into our own action?
The speech and many thoughtful comments on its meaning and its history are at the website <MLK50.org>
And then on April 4, the 50th anniversary itself, in Washington DC, please join clergy, laity and other people of good will who are concerned about America in this present crisis, for a day of reflection on Dr. King’s message, followed by action. We will gather at 12:30 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (13th Street & New York Avenue NW) (PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH) and begin with an intergenerational and interfaith conversation about our current moral crisis with Sister Simone Campbell (“Nuns on the Bus”); Rabbi David Saperstein (former Director, Religious Action Ctnter of Reform Judaism); Imam Talib Shareef (Masjid Muhammad); and Rev Anthony Grimes (Fellowship of Reconciliation & Black Lives Matter).
Workshops and teach-ins on the triplets of racism, materialism and militarism will follow.
The day will culminate with a multi-religious call to prayerful action led by Rev. Aundreia Alexander (Associate General Secretary, National Council of Churches) and Bishop Dwayne Royster (Political Director, PICO National Network); and Congressman Jamie Raskin -- sending the community forth at 5 pm on a March to the White House where we will hold a Vigil.
Please register so that we can account for workshop space: <https://theshalomcenter.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=18>
The Planning Committee for this gathering in Washington DC includes:
Rev. Aundreia Alexander, associate general secretary, National Council of Churches
Christine Ashley, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Cherie Brown, director, National Coalition-Building Institute
Sister Simone Campbell , Executive Director, NETWORK (“Nuns on the Bus”)
Rev. Dr. Terence Ellen (Unitarian Universalist), Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
Rev. Richard Fernandez, (In 1967) executive director, Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam
Rev. Roger Gench, New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC
Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, director, Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Church USA
Rev. Mike Neuroth, Washington Office, United Church of Christ
Michael Newheart, Friends Yearly Meeting, Adelphi MD
Jacqueline Patterson, Director, Environmental Justice, NAACP
Bishop Dwayne Royster, political director, PICO National Network
Rabbi Gerry Serotta, executive director, InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington
Imam Talib Shareef, Masjid Muhammad, Washington, DC
Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel, Rockville MD
Sharon Stout, Friends Meeting, Adelphi MD
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
(Institutions listed for identification only)
Just as The Shalom Center initiated this MLK50 effort, please help us continue this work through the Year of Truth and Transformation to heal the deep wounds of our society, by making a contribution through the "Contribute" banner on the left margin of this page.