Below is a collection of reposts from mosthopeful.com, posted today in honor of 50 years after MLK’s famous dream.
What is your dream today, fifty years later?
It’s no secret that racism is not okay.
Most people know it. A lot of people pretend like they agree with it. Some people fake it. Everyone deals with it.
But we all know that racism is not okay.
And so we think of ourselves as matured. As evolved. As just and honest and good and lovely.
But we are, all of us, racist, of course….
We were sitting around a table spread with pads, pens and leftovers a few feet off of Beale Street in Memphis. We had a two-day staff retreat for Area Relief Ministries, and we were closing up our time together with some overarching reflections on our different ministry areas, what we were seeing and feeling, and where we wanted to go in the days ahead.
Having been through the National Civil Rights Museum together, a staff of half women and half men, half black and half white, we were reflecting on our own experiences and those of the people we serve every day at ARM. One of our staffers, Vakendall, started talk-praying in a kind of musical tone that he often speaks in; what came out of his mouth has been lingering in my head since then.
In reference to the photos and pictures throughout the Civil Rights Museum of men and women standing up to oppression, racism and violence with a kind of sharp meekness seldom see, Kendall asked, “Who told them they were somebody?”…CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THIS POST FROM OCTOBER 30, 2011.
“…Let us turn our thoughts today
to Martin Luther King.
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood…”
I’ve been grading papers and cleaning up the house today, enjoying an almost-full day at home which is rare and therefore celebrated. I had headphones on listening to James Taylor because the day felt right for it, and I froze the moment I heard the above lyrics…. CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THIS POST FROM MAY 5, 2012.
I remember the first time I watched Amazing Grace. I felt immediately proud and cowardly, feeling both as I resonated with humanity at its best and worst. Wilberforce looked the status quo in the eyes, evil and injustice and profitable as it was, and challenged it. Of course, he was able to do so because he had the money and the power and the influence to ultimately play hard ball with the good old boys.
But the scene I remember from the film is one where sitting around a table, their inability to imagine how they could continue profitable businesses, orderly communities, and the current status quo made Wilberforce’s audience unable to move forward with the abolition of slavery. They were likely people who sought justice in other ways, but this hit too close to home, and their imaginations could not overshadow their greed and lust for power…. CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE POST FROM APRIL 14 2012.
Pine Tree Dr.
it’s one thing to sit with a huge twenty-dollar coke
watching the story unfold on the big screen
making decisions pretending like we don’t know how the story goes.
of course, i would vote for the thirteenth amendment.
i’d be a monster otherwise.
i know it has to do with money.
i know it has to do with the economy as we know it.
i know we don’t know how to move forward without slavery.
but, i’m a good enough person to know that i’m in favor of it.
i think to myself, eating popcorn,
watching the story, ending already known, unfolding on the screen.
and I think about the stories unfolding right now
the stories in congress
the stories in the courts
the stories in the projects
the stories in the suburbs
the stories in the churches
the stories in the living rooms
the stories in the villages
the stories in the high-rises
the stories unfolding right now
across not only this city
across not only this nation
but all over the globe
and i wonder,
as i eat my popcorn and drink my twenty-dollar drink,
do I have it in me
to stand for justice
to take the risk
to make the jump
when i have no idea what it will mean about money
when i have no idea what it will mean about the economy as we know it
when i have no idea what it will mean about how to move forward
when i have no idea what it will mean
but, on this side of history,
where will i be standing
one hundred and fifty years from now
when people will be eating popcorn
imagining what they would have done
had they been me.
may we be courageous.
I’ve just returned from a four-hour party that is still making its way into the evening. It was a welcoming party for a new neighbor on my street, Pine Tree Dr.
I live in the home of my great, great aunts. They were the sisters of my great-grandfather whom I never met. They were born in the first decade of the twentieth century, and lived as graduates of Vanderbilt, single women who taught students from high school to University in the town I now live and teach in. I live in their home much changed since they were here; there is new paint, a new floor plan, newly-purposed rooms, but still their home nonetheless.
As I walked home tonight from my neighbors’ house around the corner, the magic of this place struck me again. I remember several years ago when I thought I was moving; I would turn out the lights in this Pine Tree house room by room, struck with a certain kind of grief and loss at every flick. It’s the building, yes, but not completely.
I love the home, no doubt. I love the old wooden, creaking floors and chandeliers. I love the plaster walls and sturdy fireplaces. I love the interesting nooks and odd architecture.
But what I love more is what tonight made perfectly clear. I sat around a swimming pool with friends and neighbors I went to middle school with, and friends and neighbors that my grandparents went to middle school with. I’m proud to say that I’m Donald Laycook’s grandson, the Etheridge’s great, great-nephew. I like that my neighbors know parts of my own history better than I myself do.
There’s an interesting honor and value in knowing that as our motley crew sat around the swimming pool eating and laughing this evening––the party lingers on with my neighbors who are older than I even now as I write this––is joined together less by job, income, or history, and more by a shared value of a place. we sit in places that those who came before us sat and enjoyed evenings by candlelight. A value of this particular Pine Tree Drive that is home to childhoods, early adulthood, retirement, loss, grief, joy, childbirth, dating, graduation, and the future of God knows what.
So I walked back home this evening grateful that I know my neighbors’ names, grateful that my neighbors can tell me about my grandparents, grateful that we recognize each other in coffee shops and business meetings, and grateful that we share a legacy as old as my lost grandfather and as young as my middle school classmates.
There’s a magic to this place, a place that is clearly home. A street that is clearly home.