Lis­ten to the voices of the past

The Covington News - - Religion -

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., pas­tor and men­tor to Sen. Barack Obama, has been in the news much of late. Who has not heard the tape of his curs­ing Amer­ica or his claim­ing that the U.S. in­vented AIDS as a way to kill black peo­ple?

Do you re­mem­ber when there was a black min­is­ter with a dif­fer­ent mes­sage? Some­one who said, “Never suc­cumb to the temp­ta­tion of bit­ter­ness.” Some­one who said, “I have de­cided to stick with love. Hate is too great a bur­den to bear.” Some­one who said, “Love is the only force ca­pa­ble of trans­form­ing an en­emy into a friend.”

Th­ese are the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was as­sas­si­nated 40 years ago to­day. If Sen. Obama is look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion, he would be much bet­ter off lis­ten­ing to King’s speeches on tape than to Wright’s ser­mons.

On April 3, 1968— the night be­fore he was killed— King fin­ished his speech with th­ese prophetic words. “Like any­body, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not con­cerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s al­lowed me to go up to the moun­tain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a peo­ple, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not wor­ried about any­thing. I’m not fear­ing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the com­ing of the Lord!”

This last week, our 66th Sec­re­tary of State, Con­doleezza Rice, fin­ished her tour of the Mid­dle East. Rice is the sec­ond black per­son to serve as the Sec­re­tary of State. She fol­lows Gen­eral Collin Pow­ell who was and re­mains ex­tremely pop­u­lar and prob­a­bly could be elected pres­i­dent from ei­ther party.

This last week the Supreme Court was in ses­sion. Jus­tice Clarence Thomas from Savannah was present among the nine, just like he has been since 1991. Thomas is the sec­ond black per­son to serve on the Supreme Court. Prior to him, Jus­tice Thur­good Mar­shall served 24 years on the high court.

And this last week, Obama spoke out against John McCain’s eco­nomic poli­cies. Obama, the Demo­cratic fron­trun­ner for the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, has de­cided to ig­nore his com­pe­ti­tion for the party nom­i­na­tion and go ahead and be­gin the de­bate with McCain.

Yes, Amer­ica is not per­fect. But it is a much bet­ter place for black peo­ple to­day than it was in 1968.

Thevi­sion of the promised land that King saw from the moun­tain­top is be­gin­ning to come true.

On this an­niver­sary of his death, let’s re­mem­ber the dream of Ge­or­gia’s most fa­mous preacher. “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 the ta­ble of broth­er­hood. 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.”

John Donaldson

Colum­nist

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