An Excerpt From “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr.

I was prompted this morning by a @JohnPiper tweet to take some time and read through MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” It is a beautifully written call to the American Christian Church to stand for justice. The words about justice in this letter are just as applicable to Christ-followers today as they were in 1963. If you have the time, I encourage you to read the letter in its entirety. If not, here is an excerpt that stood out to me.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? 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. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

— Martin Luther King Jr., 16 April 1963

At the End of Slavery

If you don’t have anything going on tonight, head over to Ebenezers Coffeehouse on Capitol Hill (2nd St & F St NE) for a screening of the documentary film, At the End of Slavery. It will be shown at 8:30pm in the lower-level performance space.

Narrated by actor Danny Glover, At the End of Slavery: The Battle for Justice in our Time takes you inside the violent and ugly business of modern-day slavery — the buying and selling of human beings — from the brothels of the Philippines to the brick kilns of India.

Undercover footage and first-person testimony from former slaves and respected experts expose the enormity of the crime — but a remarkable strategy and the courage of today’s abolitionists offer hope for a final end to this brutal trade.

Text from http://attheendofslavery.com/

View the At the End of Slavery Trailer

For your information, I love the song “God’s Gonna Cut you Down” (played in the film’s trailer) from the Man in Black, Mr. Johnny Cash.

For more information see: http://attheendofslavery.com/

Lincoln Heights – Deanwood Neighorhood Dream Walk

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I spent the morning walking through the Lincoln Heights Dwellings (DC Housing Authority) and other neighborhoods close-by with a group of friends dreaming about how to serve DC’s needy neighborhoods. Our group definitely looked a little out of place as we walked the neighborhoods, but I was filled with excitement as I thought about how we could bless these neighborhoods by reaching out and showing God’s love through acts of compassion.

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We learned about Suburban Gardens, an amusement park for African Americans who were not allowed entry into Glen Echo Park in Montgomery County, MD. The park was in existence from 1921 to 1940, and the Merritt Middle School building sits on part of the grounds of the long-gone amusement park.