Summary: This is a message given at a chapel service at a Christian High School where the majority of students were white and I'm an African American sharing my experiences.
Dr. King Reflections by Rick Gillespie- Mobley
Go Back To The Mountaintop
Martin Luther King Jr. was first and foremost a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the images in his messages came from being grounded in the word of God. He used a lot of the prophets imagery for justice, for mercy, and for righteousness. The imagery he used of having a dream, can be traced to Joseph in the bible having a dream of what the future was going to be like.
In his final public address we find Dr. King saying “And I’ve looked over ---, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. --- I may not get there with you. -----But I want you to know tonight, (Yes) that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. ----- And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. “
The imagery of the promised land and the mountain top come directly out of the Old Testament in Deuteronomy. God had promised to bring His people out of slavery in Egypt and to lead them to a new promised land where they would find freedom and justice, and a place to call their own.
Moses was God’s appointed leader for the people to make it to the promise land. However Moses stumbled in his leadership and God told him that he would not be able to enter the promised land. When Moses asked God for another chance, God told him, you may go up the mountain and see the promise land, but you will not be able to enter into it. Moses did in fact go up the mountain, and he saw from a distance what God had is store for the people.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had that same experience as Moses in a spiritual sense in that he saw a promised land from where he was standing. It was not just for Black People but for all people, yet knowing in his heart that he would not get to physically enter that land. .
We live in a world today in which all of our young adults 42 and under were not alive to see the world of which Dr. King began his ministry. They do not understand the official government endorsement of the Jim Crow Laws of where you could sit on a bus, which water fountain you could drink from, or not being able to pull into a hotel. Professional athletes couldn’t eat with the team. They do not know the burden of segregation, nor the unity that once existed in the Black community and the role of the Black Church in society.
Many do not understand what the big fuss was that Dr. King and other civil rights leaders seemed to be complaining about. Some youth ask if Dr. King was a real person. They do not understand the doctrines of last hired and first fired. They don’t understand that just because you have the money does not mean you can live in the neighborhood. You could be as good as Lebron James and get cut.
Some young men crazy enough to believe that if they had been around, they would have given southern sheriffs and policemen a piece of their minds if they had felt dished or disrespected.. They have no concept that in return they would have had their brains splattered against a jail wall with no one ever coming to justice for the crime and their families never knowing what happened to them.
I was born in 1956 in the heart of Ga in a little town called Dublin. It was a large agricultural place with plenty of farmlands owned by whites but worked by Negroes. Most of you never heard of Dublin, but that I discovered was intentional. The US Air Force had wanted to build a base in Dublin, but the local politicians fought against it. The base was eventually built in the city of Warner Robbins.
You may have heard of Warner Robbins AFB. It turns out, had the AFB had been built in Dublin, it would have taken too many Negroes out of the white farmer’s fields and presented them with a chance at real decent jobs. The local powers would rather keep Negroes poor and in check, than do what was best for the local area economy.
I grew up where the bathrooms were labeled men, women, and colored. I passed white and colored fountains. I remember not being able to go inside the local Dairy Queen. If business was slow, they would let you go to the side window. I remember when we got new school books, that already had kid’s names written in them. Only later did I discover those names, were the white kids who had used our new books for a few years before we got them.