Remembering MLK, Jr in April and May

MLK photoMartin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269 Source: Library of Congress

This April was an important month for remembering the legacy of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., with the fiftieth anniversary of his death on April 4th, 1968. Revered worldwide, his particular legacy of a prophetic quest for human and civil rights and the Beloved Community, guided by faithful adherence to non-violence, continues as a beacon of hope and inspiration in an era when we in the United States, and here in New York, are painfully aware that this community has yet to be achieved.

Here is an excerpt on MLK, Jr. from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta. As the son and grandson of Baptist preachers, he was steeped in the Black Church tradition. To this heritage he added a thorough academic preparation, earning the degrees of B.A., B.D., and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University.

In 1954, King became pastor of a church in Montgomery, Alabama. There, Black indignation at inhumane treatment on segregated buses culminated in December, 1955, in the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. King was catapulted into national prominence as the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott. He became increasingly the articulate prophet, who could not only rally the Black masses, but could also move the consciences of Whites.

King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to spearhead non-violent mass demonstrations against racism. Many confrontations followed, most notably in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and in Chicago. King’s campaigns were instrumental to the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and 1968. King then turned his attention to economic empowerment of the poor and opposition to the Vietnam War, contending that racism, poverty and militarism were interrelated.

King lived in constant danger: his home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed, and he was harassed by death threats. He was even jailed 30 times; but through it all he was sustained by his deep faith. In 1957, he received, late at night, a vicious telephone threat. Alone in his kitchen he wept and prayed. He relates that he heard the Lord speaking to him and saying, “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice,” and promising never to leave him alone—“No, never alone.” King refers to his vision as his “Mountain-top Experience.”

After preaching at Washington Cathedral on March 31, 1968, King went to Memphis in support of sanitation workers in their struggle for better wages. There, he proclaimed that he had been “to the mountain-top” and had seen “the Promised Land,” and that he knew that one day he and his people would be “free at last.” On the following day, April 4, he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet.

While many of the milestones of MLK’s legacy are firmly situated in the South, he did spend significant time in New York.

On Thursday, May 17th, at 7 o’clock in the evening, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine will hold a special Liturgy of Lamentations in commemoration of MLK’s presence there.

A Liturgy of Lamentations
Commemorating the presence of Dr Martin Luther King Jr
At the Cathedral of St John the Divine
Featuring Paul Winter
Thursday May 17th, 2018 at 7pm
May 17th was chosen for this special liturgy because it was 58 years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached his sermon, “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore” at a special service of prayer and thanksgiving.  The service also commemorates the anniversary of his death 50 years ago.
PERFORMERS WILL INCLUDE: Paul Winter (world famous soprano saxophonist and founder of the Paul Winter consort) Alicia Waller (renowned classical soprano and cultural connector)Theresa Thompson (International Gospel, jazz and cultural singer), Reggie Wilson (Choreographer, Fist and Heel Performance Group); Tonika Custalow, Vissi Dance Theatre, The Festival Diocesan Choir, William E. Randolph (Assistant Organist of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine) and acclaimed singer and director Jeannine Otis.
SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE : The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas (Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, Professor of Theology at Union and Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral) The Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche (Bishop of the Diocese of New York); and “Richard Jenkins” (a formerly enslaved 18th Century Episcopalian  who helped build and then served as sexton for St. James’, Hyde Park, played by actor Brockton Pierce)
We pray you will join us. For more information, contact the Reverend Richard C. Witt, Co-Chair of the Reparations Committee on Slavery, at 845-706-0536 or

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