Thought for the week – Reverend David Jones

FIFTY years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead in Memphis by white segregationist James Earl Ray.

This was at the height of the civil rights movement which strove for equality for black people in the highly segregated deep south of the USA. Dr. King’s insistence throughout the campaign for equality was always on non-violence. This, however, did not take away from the radicalism of his cause because he knew that only though determined action would change come.

The injustice and prejudices suffered by the black communities was seemingly insurmountable. Despite the advances that had been made there remained strong and determined resistance and protesters were, more often than not, met with extreme violence from the governing authorities.

In March 1965, a group of demonstrators attempting to march peacefully from Selma Montgomery to demand the right to vote were attacked with whips, clubs and tear gas. Two years previously a bomb tore through a Baptist church in Alabama killing four innocent children.

In April 1968 it would have seemed beyond the hopes and expectation of the black community that the White house would have become the home of the first African American president, or that Martin himself would be ingrained into the history of the nation with an annual day’s holiday. His speech in 1963 when over 250,000 converged on Washington is one of the greatest orations in American and even world history. He spoke of his dream when people of all races and creeds would come together and when children of whatever race would not be judged by the colour of their skin but on the content of their character.

To this day there remain dictatorships and regimes that discriminate against minorities because of their ethnicity, orientation and religion. If there is any purpose in remembering the events of fifty years ago it is in continuing to challenge such evil and prejudice wherever it is seen. Martin, if he had lived would by now be nearing his 90th birthday. This simple Baptist preacher so moved and convinced by the example of Jesus that he too chose the way of sacrifice and suffering rather that the ways of violence and intimidation. One sentence from his sermon ‘Strength to love’ is surely the way we too must follow.

‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that’

Martin’s star still burns bright and will never be extinguished – ‘Well done good and faithful servant’

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