We Must Resurrect the True, Radical Legacy of Martin Luther King

In the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, a New Testament epistle dated a few decades after the crucifixion of Christ, the author presents a most horrific image of continued brutalities suffered by Christ as the writer castigates a community of Christians for failing to adhere to the foundational principles of their new faith. On account of their failure to mature in the faith and to repent of their evil deeds, the author found them guilty of no less than crucifying Christ over and over, again. The author levies upon them the additional accusation of repeatedly subjecting Christ to public shame.What happens to the legacy of a public figure after death reveals more about the contemporary community serving as caretakers of that legacy than the public figure. Five decades ago an assassin's bullet nearly severed the head of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at age 39 as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. To now isolate King's assassination to a singular date in history is to miss the ways in which his legacy has continued to be crucified ever since.King's legacy has been misused to advance an alternative vision than the one he espoused. Our American community of caretakers has all but robbed King of his prophetic words and ministry. We have sanitized his legacy, making him less radical in death than he was in life, using his words meant to pierce the soul to sell trucks during the Super Bowl.This past January, I was honored to host in Dallas the Rev. Dr. William Barber - a man seen by many as walking most closely in the footsteps of King - over several days around the King Holiday. Barber continuously warned against further commemorations of King, especially by those who would be opposed to King's work and ministry if he were present with us today.In life, King was radically opposed to the tripartite evils of poverty, racism and militarism. Yes, he had a dream that one day his children would live in a nation where they would not be judged by the hue of their skin, but by the substance of their character. But King also dreamed of a guaranteed income for all Americans that would eradicate poverty.  Continue reading...

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