Monday, January 16, 2023

In Honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

As a young Afro-Carribean family living in America, we wanted to ensure our children knew who they were. One of the things that connected my husband and I was our knowledge of Black History and wanting our children to have better experiences than we had. We didn't want them to be judged by the color of their skin. 

We knew what it was like to navigate life as a Black person. We embraced who we are and wanted the same for our children. We never wanted them to feel less than others because of their skin color. We wanted them to walk through this world with confidence. On one of our many trips to Atlanta, we visited the King Center, which honors the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. I soon became aware of his writing A Letter from a Birmingham Jail. At the time, it was a small book in the bookstore, but I remember my husband grabbing it, saying it was essential reading.

From the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in longhand a letter to the religious leaders of Birmingham. It was his response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by eight white religious leaders of the South appealing to the local Black population to use the courts and not the streets to secure civil rights. What they were requesting was untenable, unreasonable, and unjust. Dr. King articulates why in his letter.

"But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid." It was in this letter he said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Here's the crux of the matter, the reason behind this letter, and why he was thrown in jail - "It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative." "We are victims of a broken promise."

"For years now, I have heard the word, "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied.""

He provides a salient discourse on just and unjust laws and our responsibility to each. He also states his disappointment with the church. "If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century." Keep in mind this letter was written in 1963! 

You can read the entire letter here or consider supporting The King Center by purchasing some of his other works.

The Reverend is a man whose legacy is longer than his life. He was 39 years old when he was assassinated and did more in his 39 years than most of us will do in our lives. His faith in God dictated the course of his life. 

My husband always tells the story of how his dad cried when he heard of his assassination in 1968. It was seminal because he'd never seen his dad cry before. 

T. D. Jakes became a pastor because he saw the Reverend's words' impact on his tired dad. After a long day, Dr. King's words gave Jakes's father energy to carry on. He learned the power of oratory from seeing the Reverend's influence on his dad. 

Because of the Reverend Dr. King's words and others and because of our faith, my children walk through this world with confidence regardless of what others may think. They know Whose they are.

I close with this one last quote from the Reverend's letter - "Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment.

In our own way, if we can right injustice, we should aim to do so, regardless of the cost.


Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below. Like my Facebook Page and follow along on Instagram. Remember to subscribe. If you're reading my new book, The Comfort of Night, please leave a review on Amazon or the publisher's site. Stay Encouraged!


  1. Thanks. I will share.

  2. Thanks for sharing the excerpts and thoughts from Dr King's "Letters". Most of the focus today - including my own - is on "I Have A Dream", but it's worth taking note that Dr King worked and sacrificed to do his part to make the dream possible. We can all do the same, as you said, working to right the injustices we see, and continue to make dreams come true for all.

  3. I recently reread Reverend Dr. King's letter, and again it made a big impact on me. Thanks for sharing how it affected your family as well. May his influence continue to live on in practical and meaningful ways to create true change in this country and world.

  4. Thanks for this, very important to remember and honor Dr King.

  5. Nylse, so wonderfully spoken. I appreciate you sharing this honorary message with Sweet Tea & Friends this month dear friend.


I love reading your comments; but please be kind. Unkind comments will be removed.