NOTE: Parents, this is a homily you should definitely listen to and talk about with your young ones. It’s also longer than usual.
This week we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.: a pastor and a civil rights leader who is also a saint. He is a saint because he stood up for justice and equality for Black people in our country. This is a picture of him when he was a little boy.
He gave a famous speech in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It’s called “I Have a Dream.”
I would like to share some of it with you. I am going to change some of the words and shorten some of the sentences to make it easier to understand. It’s called paraphrasing.
I have a dream that one day our country will live out the true meaning of its promise: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the children of former slaves and the children of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, will be transformed into a state of freedom and justice.
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, 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 (like it says in the Bible) that 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 people shall see it together.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing: “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 country, this must become true. So let freedom ring from New Hampshire. Let freedom ring New York. Let freedom ring from Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from Colorado. Let freedom ring from California. Let freedom ring from Georgia. Let freedom ring from Tennessee. Let freedom ring from Mississippi. From all the states, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children , black and white, from every people and every religion, will be able to join hands and sing: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
So, today we give thanks for Martin Luther King, Jr. and ask God to help us to live up to his inspiring words.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog