A Hope and a Future in 2018
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am a child of the 1950s. I cut my teeth on the words “civil rights.” Every morning from my earliest memories, my mother and father read two newspapers at the breakfast table—The Clarion-Ledger and The Commercial Appeal. They read aloud to each other, and they discussed national news and politics constantly. Clearly, they were not sheltering me from their adult conversations on the chaos of the world although I did not know how to interpret some of it. Still, I picked up on the names of the powerful political leaders right along with the names of the characters in my Mother Goose storybooks. At age three or four, I named my Christmas doll Ike after President Eisenhower.
We had an African-American housekeeper who was also our cook and our nanny, and I loved her as I loved my closest relative. Her name was Jessie Mae, but my older sister had taken to calling her “Bay,” and that is who she became for the rest of her life. She had full charge of me much of the time, taking me with her all over town on foot visiting her nephews and nieces or stopping by the Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church where she served on the usher board. It did puzzle me, however, why whenever she took me to a movie, I sat downstairs and she sat upstairs. That just did not seem right to me.
In the showroom of my father’s automobile dealership, I also remember a water fountain that had a big “Colored” sign on the wall above it. I did not see why that was necessary either, but I just accepted the status quo at the time because I was a child, and what did I know?
It was in the 1960s that I occasionally caught the evening news clips filled with scenes of marches and state troopers and policemen dragging black and white protestors toward a waiting paddy wagon. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s picture made the front page most days, and depending on who was reporting, he was either called a courageous leader or a rabble rouser.
I was in the eleventh grade when the news came across the air waves that Dr. King had been assassinated. For the first time, I realized the ugliness of racism without knowing the word. It hurt my heart.
Dr. King’s message sounds timeless and quite reasonable here in 2018. The right to vote, the right to be recognized as free and equal in the public square echo the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence as well as in God’s Holy Word. It is hard to understand why the resistance was so strong. Fifty years later, it is still impossible to justify.
I visited the new Civil Rights Museum as part of a press preview two weeks before the official opening. It was a sobering experience to see that side of our history up close, unvarnished, and in living color—documented in all of its embarrassing reality. It was a reminder to me that humanity does indeed need a Savior.
Telling ourselves the truth is a good thing. Healing can’t happen unless one understands the disease. I am so grateful for the collaboration between black and white who poured their energy into the museum. It took humility and courage on the part of all involved to expose the sins of the past and to leave the visitor with a real sense of hope for the future.
“Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” is a profound quote. It is sometimes attributed to George Santayana and sometimes to Winston Churchill. Either way, it is worth remembering.
The real challenge is in acknowledging the wrong, naming it for what it was, and being willing to let the past be the past. That’s how we move forward. I think you will enjoy our cover story this month. Flonzie Brown Goodloe Wright is one gracious lady.
I still believe that Jesus Christ is the great reconciler—He is the one who heals our hearts and transforms us from the inside out. May we all seek him more than ever in 2018.
Happy New Year!