Confronting racism and prejudice requires creative tension, Letters from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King

What a powerful experience to come together on Martin Luther King’s birthday to hear and discuss the letter he wrote from the Birmingham Jail. Several years ago the writer had the opportunity to attend a gathering of men and women to a dialogue/disdussion sponsored by the Mankind Project (the event was organized by Mr. Lenny Hoffman who is a member of each group) and The Center for the Healing of Racism both based in Houston, Texas.

As person after person stood up to read a portion of Dr. King’s letter, they also shared how the letter and King’s life had affected them. ip of the Civil Rights movement. Their comments were potent, emotional, and thought-provoking. I was impressed how counsel is found in the sacred circle of storytelling as it was that night.

Dr. Virgil Wood, one of the participants, told us he was a Baptist minister during the Civil Rights era,, and had worked alongside of Dr. King for ten years. He was jailed three times with Dr. King. He was an eyewitness elder so we were very blessed to have him with us that night. He mentioned that the Letter from the Birmingham jail was suffused with the soul of Dr. King. He also observed that he felt that MLK didn’t have a chance to finish his mission: he never got to focus on the economic exploitation of
African Americans and other poor and oppressed people.

Dr.King protested the Vietnam War, for both the perpetrators and those who are oppressed. It was this imperialistic policy that exploited the people of Vietnam. In Dr. King’s mind, if one person suffered human indignity, then we all suffer. We are all human beings and have this as our common denominator. Each person on this planet is born free, and our inherent Human Rightst can never be stolen from us in the final analysis. Our minds must transform and they must be fought for and preserveds at all costs.

As we observe Martin Luther King Day in whatever way we choose Let’s remember the essence of his message for us all: If we could choose and commit to what these words reveal:


All life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. (Dr. Martin Luther King)

© Christopher Bear Beam 01/14/2012

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