“Today we pay tribute to Martin Luther King, the man who has never abandoned his faith in the unarmed struggle he is waging, who has suffered for his faith, who has been imprisoned on many occasions, whose home has been subject to bomb attacks, whose life and the lives of his family have been threatened, and who nevertheless has never faltered.
To this undaunted champion of peace the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament has awarded the Peace Prize for the year 1964.”
The above quote is from the Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Gunnar Jahn’s remarks as he presented Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with his Nobel Prize on December 10, 1964. The emphasis on King’s faith may seem obvious because after all he was a pastor. Yet he did not exemplify strong faith because he held the title or role, but rather because of how he was driven by his faith to seek justice.
The photograph above is significant for many reasons as it relates to the tensions and conflicts that King had to navigate as a leader and the pressures for more radicalism in the movement and the call for restraint. But what is most telling to me is the footwear that Dr. King chose or perhaps felt required to wear. Although he was wearing a suit, if you look closely you will see that he has work boots on his feet. You see as a man of faith he was more than familiar with the verse from the Book of James, 2:14-26, Faith without works is dead. For Dr. King the struggle for justice was his ministry and America was his congregation. He understood that his faith was something he demonstrated every day of his life.
As he demonstrated his faith in his leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King reminded us that we must examine our own faith. The video featured here is an excerpt from a sermon he gave at his church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. He asks that we determine if our is an “if” or a “though” kind of faith. As I listened I wondered, are we “if” or “though” kind of teachers. Do we approach teaching with a “if everything goes how I want” attitude? Or can we honestly say, “though I don’t agree with certain policies or though my students face many challenges, I remain dedicated and unrelenting”. This weekend I urge you to take about seven minutes and listen to Dr. King’s message. What lesson does he have for you about faith and your service to children in an unjust society?
We honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he represents the seventh principle of the Nguzo Saba, Imani, which means faith. We are thankful for the love he showed for black people and our liberation. His example reminds us to remain prayerful and stay in the fight for justice over racism and white supremacy.
Peace good people…