In celebration and remembrance of Dr. King’s life and work, I participated in the local commemoration of his birthday. I humbly share with you an excerpt of my brief welcoming remarks.
Dr. King shared his message of hope, faith and non-violence with all who would listen. Over forty years ago, long into his mission, he challenged our country to participate in his dream of a society open, available and free for all – regardless of skin color, national origin, socio-economic status or religion. We gather today as religious people to celebrate, to learn and to challenge our own response to King’s message – especially his message of non-violence. We are here to say to each other, to say to ourselves and to the broader community that we, a community of diversity, embrace The Rev. Dr. King’s message and through faith and hope we continue his work of non-violence.
Nearly 40 years ago many people marched with Dr. King from Selma to Montogomery Alabama. The march included leaders of the Civil Rights movement – Dr. King, Ralph Bunche, Ralph Abernathy and a Rabbi by the name of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I’m told that Rabbi Heschel was called “Father Abraham” by Dr. King and his other friends in the movement. “Father Abraham” shared many views with King. Heschel joined the throngs on the Selma march and spent some of the time arm-in-arm with King. In his diary “Father Abraham” wrote, “I felt a sense of the Holy in what I was doing, during the march our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying.”
Let our presence, our words and our actions here tonight contain a similar sense of the holy and may we feel that our bodies, hearts and minds are praying as we continue the work and mission of King’s life.