Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RE: A Call To Conscience Chapter Eight

Our God Is Marching On

I had goosebumps crawling up and down my skin from reading Our God Is Marching On today.  It was partly because I was listening to deeply emotional string music. The combination of the two was incredible. King was as resilient and empowering as ever but this speech was undeniably different from those that came before it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a gift for encouragement, and for finding humanity in every person. That gift came through in his words, but in this speech he finally had something to brag about; he had more than faith and courage to share, but he had triumphs to boast of. It's amazing how long he had hitherto stirred peoples hearts with only hopeful words.

This speech was also more informative than previous ones. His explanation of how the Jim Crow Laws came about was news to me, and as upsetting as it was I hope you'll read it.

Toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. (Listen to him) That is what was known as the Populist Movement. (Speak, sir) The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses (Yes, sir) and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging Bourbon interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses (Yeah) into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the Bourbon interests from the command posts of political power in the South.
To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.
. . . the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. (Yes, sir) He gave him Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, (Yes, sir) he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. (Right sir) And he ate Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. (Yes, sir) And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, (Speak) their last outpost of psychological oblivion. (Yes, sir)
Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike (Uh huh) resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; (Yes, sir) they segregated southern churches from Christianity (Yes, sir); they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; (Yes, sir) and they segregated the Negro from everything. (Yes, sir).  -Dr. King 1965

It's a tragic fact that humans can derive self-worth from devaluing others.  Bullies, bosses, fathers, and tyrants can all fall victim to the same deception that crushed Populism. 


Who are you better than?  Who do you think is stupid, lazy, or inconsiderate?  They might be any or all of those things, but as Christians we have no right to judge them, and certainly no right to devalue them.  Scripture tells us that we all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and that there is no one righteous (Romans 3:10).  We aren't better than your enemies, only Jesus was better than his enemies and he chose to die for them.  Let go of your judgments today; leave that task to God. 

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