Yesterday was one of those confusing holidays. There was no mail and no school, but Helen’s dental office was open and trash is being picked up on the usual schedule. Martin Luther King Day is a national holiday, but it has always been a “second tier” holiday. Not everyone observes it and, frankly, I get the feeling a lot of people were never sold on why we needed another national holiday.
My life has spanned quite a transition in our attitudes toward race. I grew up with a nursery rhyme that included the line “catch a n_ _ _ _ _ by the toe”. Now we have elected (and re-elected) a black man as our president. A lot of change. A lot of progress. And a lot of progress still needed.
I was disturbed by our president’s recent comments that his race is one reason for his low popularity. If he’s right, that is a sad commentary. If he is wrong (and I think he is wrong), it is also a sad commentary, that a “racial” reason would come so quickly to mind as an excuse. Could it be that we’ve regressed, not moved forward, in racial attitudes since that historic election in 2008?
Dr. King was clearly a catalyst for positive change. He was a pastor. He knew the Bible. He understood that Jesus fought the same battle against racism that he fought and that he inspired all of us to join.
The battle continues. “White privilege” has not gone away, a fact those of us who are white and privileged may have a hard time seeing. Most years I address Dr. King’s “unfinished dream” in a sermon. This year we have a sermon series that got in the way. But I’m glad for this opportunity just to say that this is a significant holiday for our nation and especially for those of us who are followers of Jesus.