Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial vs. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Washington, D.C., didn’t get Martin Luther King, Jr. while he was alive. Why should we be surprised that Washington doesn’t get him yet today? They have censored him as a minister and carved him in stone as “an arrogant twit,” to quote poet Maya Angelou. Here are three of my favorite things about King and a little about how Washington, D.C., misrepresents him:


1. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was committed to act with justice (Micah 6:8). Everyone understands this. Some days his photo-op was in the White House; other days it was a mug shot in the jail house. That’s why he became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 when he was only 35 years old.


2. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s cause was others—not himself (Matthew 25:31-40). Yet, what did the experts in Washington, D.C., carve into King’s memorial which was unveiled in 2011? The inscription currently reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.” Poet Maya Angelou said that it made King sound “like an arrogant twit.” Martin Luther King III told CNN simply: “That was not what Dad said.”

What did King say? Two months before he was assassinated, he preached the following:
If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” (emphasis added)

Rachel Manteuffel with The Washington Post, along with others, have ratcheted up the pressure so much that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that the carving will be changed.

I hope that the “experts” will either show the entire quotation or edit it to “America’s drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”


3. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a change agent for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). The abbreviations surrounding King’s name tell us about him, but they are censored by the experts in Washington, D.C.
• Jr.
shows us King’s roots. He was the son of Rev. Martin Luther King. King did not spring from nowhere. He was the outgrowth of a great family.
• Dr.
points to King’s brilliance and scholarship. He was an orator and leader on par with anyone.
• Rev.
reminds us that the basis and fundamental duty of King’s leadership and service were under Jesus Christ. However, the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation has censored this. When you read about King on the foundation’s web site, he is “Dr.”—but never “Rev.” The foundation admits that he was a pastor, but it will only describe him as a scholar and an activist—not as a minister. What did King do at seminary? Did he learn how to preach, to lead a church, to know God? Not according to the memorial foundation: “He deepened his understanding of theological scholarship and explored Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent strategy for social change.”

Thank you, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for opening the eyes of so many of us who were blind!

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About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in culture, leadership, public square, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial vs. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. Pete says:

    Thanks for filling in crucial things that others have left out, for whatever reason. Let’s remember leaders who talked about God! May God give us more, but not just who talk about God on the campaign trail

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