Read + Reflect: 28 Days with Martin (Installment #2)

Welcome to the second installment of this series! Click here for the first installment.

One of the ways I’m encouraging my congregation to learn about the social roots of black oppression in modernity is through an educational series called Read + Reflect: 28 Days with Martin. Everyday in the month of February, I will publish a brief excerpt of Martin Luther King Jr.’s writing and a short reflection question on my church's Facebook account and via email to those who subscribe to our Social Justice Team. My hope is that these short, regular exposures to King’s words—which often expand beyond then-current race relations and into theology, philosophy, economics, and militarism—will stir something in people to become more educated, advocate for justice, and carry on King’s dream.


I’ll be posting further installments in this series each Sunday in February. I encourage you to make use of these however you’re able for your churches and ministries, whether that’s social media, email, small groups, or something else. It’s a joy to join together with you in the work of justice.


6 February 2023



“At times, life is hard, as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and painful moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of a river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of the summers and the piercing chill of its winters. But through it all, God walks with us.” (Eulogy for the Martyred Children, 1963)



This is an excerpt from a eulogy King gave at the funeral of the children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL. In what ways have you see God walking with the oppressed and downtrodden in our current historical moment? What are some ways you bear the presence of God to oppressed communities and walk alongside them in their sufferings? 


7 February 2023 



“You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?’…Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.” (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963)



King is probably most famous for his endorsement of nonviolent resistance as a method to force society to confront issues of injustice. What are methods that we can employ today (or we’ve seen others employ) to force our society to confront modern issues of injustice?

8 February 2023



“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for the spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.” (Nobel Peace Price Acceptance Speech, 1964)



King’s vision of justice was “intersectional,” meaning it understood that several different areas of human life necessarily overlap and are affected by one another. What issues in our current context do you see “intersecting” with one another? 

9 February 2023



“The innate worth referred to in the phrase the image of God is universally shared in equal portions by all men. There is no graded scale of essential worth; there is no divine right of one race which differs from the divine right of another. Every human being has etched in his personality the indelible stamp of the Creator.” (The Ethical Demands of Integration, 1962)



King believe that both the oppressed community and their oppressors all bore this “stamp of the Creator.” How can we affirm this divine image in both the people who are the objects of injustice, as well as those who are the subjects? 


10 February 2023



“A voice out of Bethlehem two thousand years ago said that all men are equal. It said right would triumph. Jesus of Nazareth wrote no books; he owned no property to endow him with influence. He had no friends in the courts of the powerful. But he changed the course of mankind with only the poor and the despised.” (A Testament of Hope, published posthumously in 1969)



How can the Christian community today affirm that “all men are equal” in the same spirit Jesus did 2000 years ago?

11 February 2023 



“Privileged groups rarely give up their privileges without strong resistance. But when oppressed people rise up against oppression there is no stopping point short of full freedom. Realism compels us to admit that the struggle will continue until freedom is a reality for all the oppressed people of the world.” (Nonviolence and Racial Justice, 1957)



Privilege exists for different groups with different qualities in our modern society (wealth, race, gender, etc). How can those of us who fall into the “privileged groups” sacrifice our privilege in service to the freedom of oppressed people?

12 February 2023



“I don’t think of love, in this context, as emotional bosh. I don’t think of it as a weak force, but I think of love as something strong and that organizes itself into powerful direct action.” (Interview with Kenneth B. Clark, 1963)




King draws a correlation between love and “direct action”—the kind of frontline resistance against injustice seen in moments of social unrest against injustice. What might “direct action” against injustice, rooted in the love of Christ, look like for us today? 



[Unless otherwise noted, all quotations are taken from A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., ed. James M. Washington, (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).]



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