Says nation must repent
By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
MEMPHIS – Thousands of union members, activists and the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. packed the famous Mason Temple Church of God in Christ on April 3, 2018 to celebrate the life of King and warn 50-years later his dream has yet to materialize.
Busloads of people came to participate in the “I AM 2018: Revisiting the Mountaintop” sponsored by the American Federation of State and County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Church of God in Christ.
As the crowd began to swell, another church, the Temple of Deliverance, COGIC down the street took in thousands more and played the video of those speaking at the Mason Temple.
While union members from around the nation spoke of why they were there to remain united, their leader, Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, said they must continue to struggle, sacrifice, educate and mobilize. “I AM 2018 isn’t just a commemoration. It’s a call to action to fight poverty…for today and tomorrow…state-by-state, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, block-by block. It’s a call to advance civil rights, labor rights and human rights. It’s the call of action to reach that Promised Land,” said Saunders.
Dr. King’s daughter, Rev. Dr. Bernice King told the crowd how her family is still in mourning, still in pain over the assassination of her father. The pain is so great they still can’t psychologically bury him.
It’s not just the pain of losing Dr. King, but also other relatives in their immediate family—their grandmother and an uncle. Their deaths still haunt them today. Rev. King added that although she was very young she knew something about the assassination of her father.
A video of when Dr. King gave his famous Mountaintop speech on the eve of his assassination splashed on a video as Rev. King shared the events leading up to her father’s famous sermon.
Rev. King, who asked her brother, Martin Luther King, III, and brother Dexter, to join her as she spoke, revealed that her father had told her grandmother the title of one of his sermons he would have given on Sunday, April 7 if he had lived. It was titled, “America May Go to Hell. As I look at the landscape of our world today, America may still go to hell,” Rev. King said.
Referring to her father’s sermon, “America May Go to Hell,” Rev. King agreed saying, “Fifty-years later, I am here to declare and decree not only must America be born again, but it’s time for America to repent because we have not in 50-years dealt with as daddy challenged us to deal with the last vestiges of racism.”
America, she said, must repent because “daddy challenged us to deal with a second evil, poverty which we have confused to confront in this nation.” She thanked Dr. William J. Barber for resurrecting the Poor Peoples Campaign.
“We have to repent and do better in this nation and deal with the chasm that exist economically,” she said. “We have to repent because of a third event my father identified called militarism which has robbed us of the necessary resources to address the social injustices and the social ills and the social discrepancies in our nation. So, America may go to hell.
“Daddy said a nation that continues year-after-year to spend more money on military defense” than programs needed by the people is wrong. “It’s time to repent because daddy said that the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence must immediately be a subject of study and serious experimentation in every field of human conflict by no means excluding relations between nations. It’s time to repent. We must change our attitude…our direction. We must break the vicious cycles that we are in and turn in another way. It’s time for a change…time for a transition, and it is no accident that on this 50th year a group of young people raised their voices to this nation to say that we must do something to protect the lives of the next generation not just in terms of guns but in terms of the social decay,” Rev. King said.
The movement, she said, continues in another generation. “We will get to the promised land. Each one of us has to make an individual decision to repent of our ways. Repent for being drawn into the divisive discourse of this nation, divisive rhetoric…. We can’t stoop so low. As other people, we must rise with dignity, discipline in everything we do,” Rev. King said. “One day we will all be able to join with Dr. Martin Luther King and say, free at last. Thank God Almighty we are all free at last,” she said to a standing ovation.
Her brother, Martin L. King, III, also thanked the youth who marched on Washington after 17 students and adults were shot to death in Parkland, Florida. He also thanked the Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movements. King said, “Together they will change this nation.” This was their shared hope.