By Rev. Brittany Graves
Ever since I can remember I was always fond of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I was younger my family had a poster of King’s “I have a dream” speech and I’ve had portions of it memorized since then. As a child I recited, “I have a dream that one day my four little children will one day live in a world where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Today, I imagine how his children relate to that message and continue to embody the legacy he started. Even more, I wonder how much his message is embodied by our nation that celebrates and quotes him, yet still strives to embody his motivation.
While “I have a dream” is certainly one of King’s most popular speeches. In the last several years, I’ve become increasingly drawn to “Letter to Birmingham Jail.” It is a forthright and hopeful message. The letter describes King’s lived experience of injustice and is a necessary nudge to those who have a dissimilar struggle for freedom. I consider it required reading that provides context for the one-liner quotes we often hear but seldom dive into the fullness of.
On a week where we are not only reminded to embody King’s legacy, we also remember 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19 and take in the transition of power to 46th President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. All of these are significant events that bring up a variety of emotions within each of us. May we give ourselves space for the emotions that arise. May we grieve collective loss and pray for families that mourn the death of loved ones. May we pray for the new presidential administration, that we would live in a more just nation and better support surrounding places.
Questions to consider:
- Ask yourself: how do I embody the legacy of King and other civil rights leaders that have come before me?
- How can you support friends or family members that are affected by COVID-19?
- What justice and equity do you strive to see in the Biden administration?
What you can do:
- Read “Letter to Birmingham Jail”
- Listen to the “Justice. Mercy. Faith.” podcast, episode 39 for reflections from American Baptist Home Mission Societies staff on King’s legacy
Abundant God, may we be filled with your overflowing love. Help us to receive the fullness of this day and extend grace where it is needed. As we take in Inauguration Day, let the new administration be given protection, guidance and tenacity. Just as we remember Dr. King on MLK Day, may this nation know its capacity to fulfill a greater dream of hope, justice & equity. Just as we remember 400,000 lives lost to COVID, may we grieve and honor them by taking seriously the collective loss that effects society. May we be mindful on this day that many of us are carrying a multitude of emotions. God, help us to show up and be supported in whatever way we need.
Rev. Brittany Graves is associate coordinator, Public Witness & Advocacy, American Baptist Home Mission Societies. She welcomes your input at [email protected] and follow her on Instagram @ambitiouslybrittany.
Photo by Sandy Torchon from Pexels