We Don’t Need Another Martin

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Last year, during Black History Month at my church, there was an interesting question. Was Bryan Stevenson the new Martin Luther King Jr? I don’t know what my response was, but I’m sure it was inadequate. We don’t need another Martin.

We don’t because, while Martin was a powerful speaker and charismatic leader, he did not operate alone. Thousands, nay millions, worked on the struggle for racial equality in the 1950s and ’60s. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the struggle continues.

So we need an actual Bryan Stevenson, who knows what it means to be present when in the midst of despair. And we require a Lonnie Bunch, who had the vision and perseverance to shepherd the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. And we have need of a  Stacey Abrams, who is doing the good work of the late John Lewis in getting more black people registered to vote.

But we also must call for those folks who speak out when that racist joke spreads throughout the office. And the people who recognize systemic injustice and work, by education and sharing, towards a more equitable country. And in particular, those who don’t know but are willing to learn. The people who lift up the unknown black artists and musicians and writers are very important.

Boy, do we need people who recognize that the conversation about reparations shouldn’t just reflect the period of enslavement. The economic disparity from Jim Crow, lynchings, and white pogroms was great. The crippling loss of generational wealth from black people being excluded from the housing and education opportunities of the GI Bill arguably may be worse.

Nope

We don’t need another Martin. News flash: Martin is dead, and he ain’t coming back. Moreover, the problems of 2021 are not the issues of 1968. OK, some of them are. We’re still fighting against voter disenfranchisement, e.g. But we require the people of today, with 21st-century insight and technology.

Maybe we ALL can be, in our own way, another Martin.

Questions about God, and coincidence

Does God DO that?

My new friend Carla, who I’ve only known for a half-century starts off this round of  Ask Roger Anything:

God
The star in the center, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, is known as V1331 Cyg and is located in the dark cloud LDN 981.

If you had the chance to ask three different people (living or dead, famous or not) ONE question… who and what would you ask?

The one requirement for this exercise, I suppose, is that they would have to answer honestly. What would I ask? What is your sense of how God manifests God’s self if, in fact, God does that? Or maybe Does knowing God just take practice?

I’d ask Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. I’m thinking of his disappointing experiences in his previous couple of years might have changed his world view of God’s plan.

I’d ask Thomas Jefferson c. 1820, long after he had left the presidency. As this article explains, his “relationship with Christianity was complicated.” So where was it near the end of his life?

I’d ask Donald Trump in 2020. But I’d wonder if he’d understand what I was trying to get at. Maybe I’d need some clarifying questions. Does he think God favors the rich? Does he believe that God supported him in herding demonstrators so he could hold up a Bible in front of a church? And if so, what was God saying to him?

Does he believe God wanted him to be reelected? Does he actually read the Bible? And if so, what parts resonate with him?

He was asked this last question around 2017, and he gave the non-answer “Oh, all of it.” Anyone who has ACTUALLY read the Bible will admit that there are some parts of Scripture with which they are uncomfortable.

What a coincidence

Uthaclena, being their usual mystical self, asks:

Isn’t “coincidence” an ALTERNATIVE Fact??

So, what do we know here? “A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances that have no apparent causal connection with one another.” So a coincidence is a fact.

“The perception of remarkable coincidences may lead to supernatural, occult, or paranormal claims.” So the perceptions of coincidences may be alternative facts.

A Tribute to Sister Rosa Parks

New exhibit at the Library of Congress

Rosa ParksI’m talking a wild guess you might have heard about Rosa Parks, who was born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, AL and died October 24, 2005 in Detroit, MI.

The Wikipedia says, “Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. The United States Congress has called her ‘the first lady of civil rights’ and ‘the mother of the freedom movement.'”

But I saw a story this past December about a NEW Rosa Parks exhibit at the Library of Congress. It contains a treasure trove of her letters. Some are written on backs on food labels. I hope to see it; the exhibit runs through September 2020. At about the same time, a new Rosa Parks statue was unveiled in Montgomery, AL.

The King Institute website has a lot of important information about her. Among the featured documents that have been chosen from the King Papers collection:

Arrest Report for Claudette Colvin. City of Montgomery Police Department. March 02, 1955. Who is she? She was a precursor to Rosa, as I noted a decade ago. Fred Gray, Alabama civil rights attorney said, “Claudette gave all of us moral courage. If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount the support for Mrs. Parks.”

Arrest Record For Rosa Parks. City of Montgomery Police Department. December 01, 1955.

Announcement, Another Negro Woman has been Arrested — Don’t Ride the Bus. Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson (Women’s Political Council (WPC)), December 02, 1955. “Don’t Ride the Bus”. Robinson, Jo Ann Gibson (Women’s Political Council (WPC)), December 02, 1955.

“Resolution” – Montgomery Improvement Association. December 08, 1955.

Music

There’s an album that came out some years ago, with snippets of dialogue from Rosa Parks between music tracks. This is my favorite song: Help Us Lord – The Chosen.

Here’s a track from the mighty Neville Brothers, Sister Rosa.