The Witness

MLK Jr. & the Reconciliation Race

Abigail Murrish

On MLK Day, Jemar sat down with Chris Brooks on his program, Equipped, to discuss Martin Luther King Jr. and reconciliation in the Church.

You can listen to the audio here!

Here are a few quotes from Jemar from their conversation.

“Christianity appeals to African-Americans not in spite of their marginalization but precisely because of it.”

“We don’t have the Savior who is unfamiliar with our sufferings both but one who’s experienced it in all kinds of ways.”

“If we only look at American Christianity, then there’s much reason to be discouraged. But if we go further back to the African Roots, to European and Middle Eastern roots, Asian roots, South American roots, Christianity as a global religion, we have much to learn from the peoples of the world. But not only that, if you consider just the United States, yes, much has been done that is evil by people who call themselves Christians. But in the midst of that, people –especially African-Americans– have found a way to put their faith into action, for good, and for righteousness and for justice. So we can’t just cut that part off when we think about Christianity.”

“It’s important to remember the fact that reconciliation has already been accomplished. When Christ said on the cross “It is finished,” he meant reconciliation is accomplished for those who believe… so we have to have the mindset that reconciliation between our neighbors is not something that we have to achieve; it’s something that we have to receive.”

“Christ has done the work of reconciling all things to himself and those who are reconciled to Christ can be reconciled with one another. In many ways the harmony that were seeking across racial lines is something that we have to lean into as a promise of God that is given to us through faith; it’s not something that we have to grunt and grind it out in our own power… We have the Holy Spirit and and that’s what gives us the strength in the motivation the endurance to pursue reconciliation.”

“The quotable King versus the controversial King is something that we have to wrestle with… Folks’ favorite soundbite of King is ‘I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ We love that part because that is the dream realized, that is the dream fulfilled, that is the hope. But, there’s stuff that King said and believed and fought for that conservative Christians might consider controversial… King was big on economic justice. He said: ‘Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.'”

“What discourages me is rooted in this sense of American and American Christians’ sense of individualism, which makes it very hard for American Christians, particularly white brothers and sisters, to see the social, systemic and institutional implications of racism… We tend to think about racism as one person not liking another person. Therefore, if that’s racism, the solution is we sit down, get a cup of coffee, or I don’t discriminate against you… that’s good and necessary, but that’s not sufficient. We have to look at the ways that racism has played out through our systems and institutions.”

“The fact that we’re having this conversation is encouraging… The conversation has changed in recent years with Trayvon Martin, with Ferguson, with Charlottesville… all of these incidents have… forced the question, even in the church, about issues of justice, criminal justice, law enforcement, drug policy, immigration policy… There’s a big gap between word and deed and we’re still looking for those actions, but thankfully we’re at least including these conversations about bigger issues of justice in our dialog about race.”

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