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Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on this day, January 15, in 1929. To commemorate the occasion I read his Letter from Birmingham Jail that was written in response to a published statement by eight Alabama clergymen in which they claimed his actions in their state were “unwise and untimely.”
This is a powerful and thought-provoking letter that I believe will benefit anyone who reads it and ponders Reverend King’s words. I recognized many phrases that have become oft-quoted and iconic over the years.
My challenge to you today is to take the time to read King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and select one phrase that isn’t oft-quoted or iconic; one that speaks to you anew today and inspires you. Copy and paste the quote as a comment for all of us to share.
I’ll begin with the phrase that stands out to me today:
May we all continue to be inspired by the life, the message, and the living legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and may we recommit ourselves to work always for truth, mercy, justice, and peace.
George Lucas, producer director of some of the most profitable films in Hollywood history (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc), has been working on Red Tails, an action-packed, special effects-laden World War II movie for 23 years. He paid for it himself. He figured a studio would eventually come in and pay for distribution and publicity. He showed it to all of them and no one would touch it.
Why? It’s the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, African American men who fought not only our enemies overseas but the culture of discrimination and oppression at home. Read the rest of this entry »
I had never heard of “Flat Stanley” when my lifelong friend Mike Godfrey wrote and asked if his son could send me his “Flat Justin” to spend some time with me. Mike and I grew up together because our parents were best friends. We went on vacations together and our families jointly owned a cabin in the mountains. We had some serious snowball fights over the years. I’m not sure there is anyone I spent more time with growing up than Mike until I moved to Oregon to attend college almost 40 years ago. I was honored that JJ chose me to send Flat Justin to.
As I understand it the Flat Stanley Project is an international literacy and community building project where elementary school students create a Stanley character that can be mailed in an envelope. Students from one school would mail their flat characters to students from a school in another part of the country (or the world) and those students create a journal that tells about where Flat Stanley is visiting.
So, variation on this theme, Mike’s son JJ sent his Flat Justin to me and I was to create a journal with pictures of Flat Justin in various places in and around our Central Oregon home/community. Well, Flat Justin learned about our home town all right, but my life takes me to many places around the country so I took Flat Justin with me to Alabama last week where I spoke at three different colleges in Birmingham and Mobile. I don’t know if JJ expected to learn about Birmingham in addition to Bend, but he’s going to nonetheless. I spent most of a day last week touring sites that were significant to the history of the Civil Rights movement and I hope that JJ, his classmates, his teacher, and even my buddy his father, are inspired to search more deeply into our nation’s history than is often the case; that JJ will know more than I did at his age about truth, justice, and equality and just how hard they are to achieve and maintain in our sometimes-not-so United States. (For anyone interested in seeing more photos than are included here, I’ve loaded quite a few onto my Facebook page).
After giving Flat Justin a tour of Central Oregon, here’s what I wrote to JJ:
There is a lot I didn’t go into with JJ. I hope this introduction will peak his interest and that he’ll explore more on his own and with his dad’s help. For instance, 45 years ago this past weekend, March 7, was Bloody Sunday, when hundreds of Civil Rights marchers attempted to walk from Selma to Montgomery and were brutally attacked by police with billy clubs and tear gas. It is a challenge to figure out how to tell our children the truth about American history. Some of it is horrific beyond words.
But this is our work if we want to leave our descendants a more just and peaceful world than the one we inherited, and the one we currently live in. I look forward to hearing back from JJ once he has a chance to read my journal of Flat Justin’s travels to Oregon and Alabama.
JJ, there are many more places to go…