Way back at the beginning of time, when I completed the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, I received orders for the United States Army Airborne School, also known as Jump School, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Derrick received the same orders.
We decided to drive from Kentucky to Georgia in Derrick’s beautiful Corvette. I was good with that. Sadly, the trip turned out to be a real eye-opener for me.
When we got to the state line between Tennessee and Alabama, Derrick pulled over on the side of the road and said I would have to drive. When I asked why, Derrick explained the last time he had driven through Alabama, he had been pulled over by the Alabama Highway Patrol because young black men did not drive brand new Corvettes in Alabama. There was no bitterness in his voice when he told me this. It was just a fact of his life.
To my knowledge, that was the first time I actually began to understand the disparity that exists in our country, where a West Point graduate could not drive his car without fear of persecution over the color of his skin. That was the moment I realized racial prejudice was alive and well in the United States of America. If anything it’s gotten worse.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, where we celebrate and honor the accomplishments of a true civil rights hero. He was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. And what we need to remember is that the struggle for equality did not die with Dr. King. It’s not over. There is still much to do.
As the power and notoriety of white supremacist groups continues to grow, it is vitally important that the Church of Jesus Christ confronts this evil and proclaims that everyone is of equal worth in the eyes of God and that it should be the same in our broken, strained society.
Holy Scripture tells us Peter learned that he was not better than others when God compelled him to enter the home of a Gentile. That simple act of walking through a doorway would have made Peter dirty and unfit for God in the eyes of the Jews. But with a new understanding from God, he walked through and said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another.” (Acts 10:34 CEB) If only we could learn the same thing today.
One of the lessons the Army taught me was I was not allowed to look at a soldier as white, black, brown, or yellow. The only color I was allowed to see was camouflage green. I wish our society would learn what the Army has practiced for decades. It would make the world a much better place.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, I humbly offer myself without reservation. Use me to make this world a better place. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
The lessons we learned from Martin Luther King, Jr. still need to be taught. There is much to do.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.