March 2, 2023
– Dane Martin
Recently I had the privilege of going to the Forsyth Tech. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Exhibition. This celebration was to remember the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and challenge us to see where we go from here. If I am honest, most of the time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I see it as a day off to hang out with family, sleep in, and get things done around the house. But for the last couple of years I have been convicted to be more intentional about this day. Yes, it’s nice to get a day off but it would be nicer for equity for all communities in our city, state, and country to be realized.
The experience of this Celebration was soothing to my soul, as we started to understand the life and legacy of Mazie S. Woodruff (I still need to learn more) and why Forsyth Tech. is committed to equity and justice as an institution of continuing education. The atmosphere was worshipful with meaningful music, including “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (The Negro National Anthem). I have to admit, I had never heard this song and it was a reminder that I have a long way to go in learning history, working for justice, and walking with underserved communities to promote equity.
Then Bishop Mack rose to speak (Pastor at Union Baptist Church). My words do not do justice to what and how he shared. It was a challenge to us all that the work does not start and end within the month of February and with one day. Bishop Mack shared about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s three evils of this world; racism, materialism, and militarism. He went into depth about each area, sharing that our country was built on racism and subjugating one group under another (the system does what it was meant to do). He talked about materialism and how we are willing to give up so much for ‘things’, even kill. Militarism leans into violence and Martin Luther King Jr. had witnessed so much violence. If we are honest, we have probably acclimated to and been desensitized to violence. Violence should not be something we are used to. SIDE NOTE: It made me remember that someone once said that if he reallocated funds from our military buildup, we could help eradicate poverty in the United States, and we would still be spending more on our military than any other country in the world.
This gathering shined a light that my work to fight against racism, fight for equity, push back against Christian Nationalism, and seek Shalom for everyone cannot be something I turn on and off at different times of the year. No, instead it has to be something I do and work on each and every day. It might just be in simple little ways, and then other times in bigger ways, but we have to be willing to do the work. Bishop Mack reminded me that the African American Church has been doing the work for decades. It’s about time the white churches start doing the work too; educating ourselves, finding ways to engage, starting to speak out, and following their lead. God is at work; let us all be challenged to join in!