Monday, January 19, 2009

Our God Is Marching On

One of my favorite speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. was given at the conclusion of the bloody march from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to the state capitol building in Montgomery, the "Cradle of Confederacy." The speech entitled Our God is Marching On, acknowledges that injustice still remains but King still savors this exhilarating victory by pointing out that "We have come a long way since that travesty of justice was perpetrated upon the American mind. We are not about to turn around. We are on the move now. Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us."

This speech is prophetic for the 2009 celebration of Martin Luther King day and the inauguration of Barack Obama at a time when we have made significant progress in matters of race by electing an African American president for the first time. Yet deep seated, structurally-reinforced racial inequality and disparities in income, wealth, credit, health, jobs, education, and opportunity remain.

The significance of Obama's victory is not that the dream has been fulfilled, but that like for the civil rights movement, which included not only a Martin Luther King, Jr. but moved upon the wings of God driven by a diverse mosaic of contributors varying by race, gender, faith, and age group - it is a long-term struggle, but the winds of change are beginning to blow and "We are on the Move Now."

Here is how Our God is Marching On begins:

We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains.

Our bodies are tired, and our feet are somewhat sore, but today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say as Sister Pollard said, a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in this community during the bus boycott and one day she was asked while walking if she wanted a ride and when she answered, "No," the person said, "Well, aren't you tired?" And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested." And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, but our souls are rested.

This is how that Our God is Marching On, so prophetic and appropriate for today, ends:


Kim said...

Great minds must think alike. I just read through a bunch of speeches determined not to highlight I Have A Dream and chose Our God is Marching On. Happy MLK Day!

Believer 1964 said...

Though Jesus' body was tired and beat up on His way to Calvary, His soul was at rest/peace knowing the joy set before Him.

God bless all those who persevered despite inhumane and undignified circumstances because of race.

And bless Jesus, God made every color!

pjazzypar said...

"Our God is Marching On" is an absolutely wonderful speech. In fact "Selma Oh Selma" was broadcast today. I want to take this time to wish you a happy MLK day and a enjoy the inauguration.

Kymberly said...

yeah, we can get stuck on the dream speech. i've downloaded a ton of other speeches and interviews from the black media archive on itunes. there were soooo many other speeches. in fact, i was so surprised to hear pieces of the dream speech in king's other speeches. well, of course! he was a preacher! (maybe one day we'll start calling these utterances SERMONS!)

by the way, that picture is one of my favorite pictures. i'm hooked on heschel.

jjbrock said...

Rev. that was a great pick and I to believe we are on the move and can't nothing stop us.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rev.

This is so appropriate and timely. Thanks much for this.

Mista Jaycee said...

Thank You!
Double R. I learn so much here!

iriegal said...

Praise God from whom all blessing flow...

Revvy Rev said...

@ Kymberly,
I love Heschel too, especially for his insights, i.e. "The Prophets." And historically for his involvement and writings concerning the civil rights movement.

Vérité Parlant said...

"How long, not long!" Martin Luther King, Jr., had not only a heart for God and the people but also the heart of prophetic poet.

In 2004, I created a webpage about Dr. King and wrote a poem for my children to capture my childhood memories of this great man so he would be more than an Icon on posters and television to them. I felt I had not talked enough about Dr. King to them personally and wanted them to know how important his work was to me, for them, this nation. and planet.

Years later the page is still up. It's not a slick page, but each year, December through May, visitors come through in increasing numbers, which has touched me.

I'm not touched so much because people are visiting a page I created or have used the poem for MLK programs. I'm touched because the visits show me people want to know more about Dr. King and understand what he stood for. Teachers from both urban and rural communities write me with questions sometimes or give me information because they know it's vital to keep his memory and words alive for our children.

The King legacy is a blessing to the world, not this nation's alone.

Thank you, Rev, for this beautiful post. I enjoyed the clip at the end with the words and the music and how you put King's message in context of today.

Revvy Rev said...

VP, this is a wonderful site. I hope that you don't mind, but I put it up on my church website. Great stuff, great poetry. said...

Hello there,

I was there in D.C. on MLK Day and I also was there on the grounds for the inauguration day...and what a day it was indeed....the folks in crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder on some streets...

Indeed...we are on the move now.


Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

donald said...

Good to have you back in the mix BWBT. I thought about you during the inauguration.I knew that you were there.