This week we honor the prophetic witness of Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and his profound influence upon this country and the world.
About fifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, MLK stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and delivered his prophetic and patriotic speech, “I have a Dream.”
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four 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.
Just a few months later, president John F Kennedy was assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the new president. Influenced by King’s prophetic witness, LBJ began the New Year, declaring the “War on Poverty.”
It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.
Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.
For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.
Fifty years later, the war on poverty, racism and violence continues, and so must the dream. It must live on, in us.
Join us, as we consider how we are called manifest that beloved community that MLK spoke of, the kingdom of heaven that Jesus manifested, and that we are called to embody!