Last night I watched the movie, "The Great Debaters" and truly enjoyed it. The thing that really touched my soul though, was the fact that good people in this country had to live in fear simply because of the color of their skin.
I confess that I grew up in the sixties and seventies in a pretty isolated community here in Connecticut. We never saw the kind of discrimination that ran rampant throughout most of the country in those days. When the race riots broke out in Hartford, and the big cities across the country, I never saw it. Tony Gibson was my friend. The Davis family were a part of the school. The color of their skin didn't matter to us here. They were just like us.
A few years ago I sat down with a couple of ladies at the Martin Luther King Center and listened to them tell their stories about growing up in the south. It opened my eyes and I wanted to cry. How Could people be so cruel? I couldn't imagine watching my friends get turned away from a restaurant or a hotel. I don't know if I would have let it pass without stepping up to say something.
I wondered why people of faith didn't stand up and say something. Then again, that is a silly question. People of faith are still silent on such issues today. We are hesitant to speak about some issues of injustice. We don't want to speak up about things because we believe our faith is a private matter.
I don't think that is true. The truth is that our faith should inform everything we do, say and believe. We should stand up for what we believe is right and stand with the powerless and oppressed. The only word of caution I would give is that we need to remember to do it in love and with civility.
Martin Luther King was able to do far more with his acts of peaceful resistance and civil disobedience than many who came before and after him. His actions spoke to the hearts of many and changed minds and created dialog and opportunities. God's love shined in him.
I loved the fact that the debaters in the movie were able to present a pretty convincing argument by simple sharing their experience. No guns were fired or heads cracked, yet, they began to change the minds of many intellectuals in this country and paved the way for a better world.
I pray that your faith and mine might do the same in our time. So let it shine.