18 Jan Love Conquers All
In 1963, America was in chaos. Our social structure was collapsing. The realization of inevitable change had given way to fear; that fear stoked the embers of hate; and our nation was set ablaze in a brilliant contrast of black and white. Swirling at the center of the firestorm was a promise unrealized. The 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, declared that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Primary Documents in American History, n.d.). However, many states were using unfair laws and tactics to prevent people of color from exercising this sacred right. By August of 1963, this and other polarizing issues had come to a head. While Americans of all colors and backgrounds chose their side, one man chose love instead.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. It was not a dream of a white America or of a black America, but a dream of one America. Dr. King was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist (Wikipedia, n.d.) who relied on God’s guidance and Biblical illustration to facilitate positive change. Dr. King movement was built on patience, tolerance, and love in a time of sweeping civil unrest. Dr. King employed nonviolent means to deliver his message—a message that dreamed of a brighter future for every American, not just those of color. That message was never clearer than on August 28, 1963, when Dr. King delivered his celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech. The stirring words of this speech worked to unify, rather than divide…a message that would ultimately be heard.
On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act–a broad-reaching piece of Federal civil rights legislation that affirmed African American’s right to vote (Voting Rights Act, n.d.). This act of legislation was the beginning of a dream realized. It was also proof that love can truly conquer all.
In the Bible, Matthew tells us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40); it also tells us that we are to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:43-48). Dr. King practiced all of these teachings and more. The perspective here is this…had one man’s love for all God’s children not ruled the day, hate would have ruled us all. Thank you Dr. King.
by: John S. Long III
Martin Luther King, Jr. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.
Primary Documents in American History. (n.d.). [LOC.gov]. Retrieved from: https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/15thamendment.html
Voting Rights Act. (n.d.). [History.com]. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/voting-rights-act