I didn’t grow up in the south where much of the racial segregation took place in our history between African Americans and white Americans. But I did grow up in a small town that is VERY white and racism was still very much alive. Now having a son that is a quarter African American today takes on new meaning for our family. I guess you could say it’s just more personal now. So last night we were explaining to Jenna why she didn’t have school today. We began to explain who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he stood for. That he was an incredibly brave man, a man who loved God and people and stood up for what was right. She seemed a bit confused and started asking questions. She said, “we’ll Isaac’s white, you’re white, dad’s white, and I’m white.” I explained that Isaac was actually a quarter African American and I had family from other countries as well. She then said, “Okay, so dad and I are white and you and Isaac are only half American.” Never a dull moment in teaching around here.
I’m so thankful for men like Martin Luther King Jr. I’m even more thankful for a God who loves all of us no matter our race, ethnicity, culture, or skin color.
I loved re-reading these words. I hope you will too.
Here’s an excerpt from his “I Have a Dream Speech”:
I Have a Dream, Washington, D.C., 1963
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”