Stop and think for a minute: King was killed April 4, 1968. That will be 40 years ago this April. Forty years. My parents were eight years-old. That is not very long ago. When I was born in 1984, his death had only been 16 years removed. That is incredible. This great “affluent” nation that is so “developed” and “sophisticated”, was lynching blacks and burning down churches just a couple decades before I was born.
If you think this country is free from racism even today, I would challenge you to open your eyes and look around. Maybe not in Lincoln. Maybe not in Hastings or Holdrege or Norfolk or Grand Island. But what about Omaha? What about Kansas City? What about St. Louis and Chicago and L.A. and New York and Memphis? My contention would be that we are still so racist that we don’t realize it. And if you are a follower of Christ today, as I am, my desire would be that we pray hard and trust the Lord to remove all those sinful negative attitudes toward people of a different color–or nationality or gender for that matter as well. It’s natural to have those attitudes–natural–but not spiritual. And when we have Jesus as King, we are no longer only natural.
I hope today would not just be a day off for you. I hope that it would be a day of praise to God for the way this country has turned around from racism, but that it would also be a day of pleading God for him to still work more change in us. Below is a excerpt from Martin Luther King that he wrote in April of 1963, five years before he died. I pray it convicts, teaches, encourages, and humbles you. I know it did that for me.
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dart of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.