He gave his life to change the world: Fifty years after the death of MLK

Apr 4, 2018 by

by John Piper, Desiring God.

The racial world I grew up in, and the one we live in today, are amazingly different. Racism remains in many forms in America and around the world. In fact, the last two years have brought a disheartening setback, as advocates of white supremacy have been emboldened to be overt. But in the days of my youth in South Carolina, it was worse. So much worse.

The segregation was almost absolute, its manifestations utterly degrading, and the defense of it rang not only from street mobs, but also from the halls of political power — without shame.

• In 1954, seventeen states required segregated public schools (America in Black and White, 99);

• In 1956, 85% of all white southerners rejected the statement, “White students and Negro students should go to the same schools”;

• 73% said that there should be “separate sections for Negros on streetcars and buses”;

• 62% did not want a Negro “with the same income and education” as them to move into their neighborhood (144);

• In 1963, 82% of all white southerners opposed a federal law that would give “all persons, Negros as well as white, the right to be served in public places such as hotels, restaurants, and similar establishments” (139);

• And in 1952 (when I was six years old), only 20% of southern blacks of voting age were registered to vote.

The upshot of those statistics was an unjust, unsafe, condescending, unwelcoming, demeaning, and humiliating world for blacks. Have you ever paused to ask yourself what separate water fountains and separate restrooms could possibly mean except, You are unclean — like lepers?

It was an appalling world. Between that racially appalling world and this racially imperfect one strode Martin Luther King, Jr. We don’t know if the world would have changed without him, but we do know he was a rod in the hand of the all-ruling God. Leave aside his theology and his moral flaws. They do not nullify the massive good God wrought through this man. He was used in the mighty hand of Providence to change the world so that the most appalling, blatant, degrading, public (and usually legal) expressions of racism have gone away. For that alone, the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s tragic assassination, and loss to the cause of justice, is worthy of heartfelt focus.

Read here

See also: Martin Luther King’s last 31 hours: the story of his final prophetic speech, by Joseph Rosenbloom, Guardian

Christian history: Martin Luther King Jr, by Russel Moldovan, Christianity Today

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