Tag Archives: martin luther king jr.

Toward the Beloved Community: Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life for the cause of justice and freedom for all people in America and around the world.  He often described his aim as the creation of the “beloved community.”

Dr. King had traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to seek just wages for the garbage collectors of that city.  Although he had earned a PhD., the highest educational attainment one can achieve, and although his profession afforded him recognition in the middle socioeconomic class of America, Dr. King did not consider himself too high above his neighbors to walk alongside “the least of these.”

What lessons can we learn from this man of God?

First, we learn that his focus was justice for ALL people.

Second, we learn that his purpose was to do God’s will—to create the “beloved community.”

Third, we learn that he had a plan based on the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”

Fourth, we learn from him the virtue of patience—he marched, he strategized. He was not satisfied with short-term achievements; he was looking for long-term creation of the  “beloved community.”

Fifth, we learn from his persistence. He kept coming back, even until his death. The evening before his assassination, he delivered the speech in which he stated, “I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the promised land (the beloved community.)  I may not get there with you, but one day we as a people will get there!”

I pray that we who are committed to the Courageous Conversations movement will learn and apply these lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To God be the glory!

Ron Swain
Convener

Chaos or Community: Déjà vu?

DDear Friends:

In April 1968, I was a junior studying history at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.  On the spring evening of April 4th, we learned that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been fatally shot in Memphis.  Dr. King was in Memphis to lead a march with the sanitation workers (garbage collectors) in an effort to gain them better wages and benefits.

That April night, Pittsburgh started burning — from the Hill District, the predominately African-American neighborhood; to downtown, the central business district and site of major banks, retails stores and general commerce. Pittsburgh was on fire!

Homes and businesses on the Hill were destroyed and the fires spread to downtown. Duquesne was just a few blocks from the fires, the violence and the chaos. Long pent-up anger and hostility exploded. Fear permeated the core of the city. The days and weeks following caused many of us to ask the question: Will this chaos be a permanent presence? No!

As an officer of our University’s Student Congress, I began conversations with fellow students and my faculty members, in particular Dr. Margaret Milliones, an African-American sociologist.

We reached out to our neighbors on the Hill, downtown business leaders and residents of East Liberty. We organized a race-relations weekend at Duquesne. Our efforts brought together members of both “town” and “gown” for a black/white dialogue. Dr. King’s last book before his assassination, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, was the centerpiece of our conversations. In his book, Dr. King offers political and economic steps toward creating a “Beloved Community” where all enjoy the nation’s abundance.

Almost 50 years later, I still believe that “Beloved Community” is possible.

This new year is a critical one for us as a nation. I wake up every day more determined than ever to give my energies and my best efforts to building the “Beloved Community.”

Will you join me? The God-inspired Courageous Conversations movement in Georgetown is our attempt to create that community where ALL means ALL!

— Dr. Ron Swain
Convener, Courageous Conversations GTX