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  • Writer's pictureCaroline James

Note 1, Volume 1

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Reflections: On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

"We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience."

-Dr. Martin Luther King

It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and in celebration of his life and work, I was setting aside a moment to reflect on his teachings.

In King’s 1967 book Where Do We Go From Here, I’ve found one of the most beautifully rich and rarely discussed nougats of King’s wisdom.

So that’s where I was that morning, feasting on these words:

Loose and easy language about equality, resonant resolutions about brotherhood fall pleasantly on the ear, but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook.”

“Hmmm,” I reflected.

A philosophical garden grew around me; I grabbed paper and pen.

“Well, first of all,” I said to myself, “could the real world ever meet our strictest definitions of equality?”

I scribbled that down.

“And brotherhood implies a sense of unity among humans,” I noted “could humans ever be fully unified?”

Another scribble.

Having captured this new landscape, I mulled it over.

“Well,” I joked to myself, “King was a pastor, so you know he had more faith in humans than I do.”

Gingerly, I began to pour a glass of water.

“Sorry, Dr. King,” I continued, “but it could be argued that expecting equality and unity is like expecting perfection.”

In Celebration of "The Real, "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Learn more about Dr. King’s radical thoughts in the video below.

I paused for a sip “but... Doc… between you and me… I’m a perfectionist, too…in recovery... of course.

I began to ball up my notes.

“Honestly, though,” I shrugged my shoulders, “nothing is perfect. So, logically speaking, even if we wanted to, it’s unlikely we could ever create perfect human equality and unity.”

With that said, I returned to King’s quote:

“Loose and easy language about equality and brotherhood […] but for the Negro there is a credibility gap he cannot overlook.”

I leaned back in my chair.

"Since perfection isn’t possible, maybe the better question is, what’s really holding us up from achieving anything even close to human equality and unity?"

And that’s when it began to dawn on me.

Right there in my kitchen: on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday

And right then:

Almost six decades after King had written those words.

Almost six decades after King’s lifetime of fighting for the United States to address civil and human rights.

Dr. King: A Human Metaphor

In the video below, learn more about how, in both life and death, Dr. King became an example of the "Credibility Gaps" he wrote about.

It became clear that I was the very negro King described in 1967.

A negro seeing credibility gaps I couldn’t overlook.

And thus, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I found myself genuinely asking:

“Does the United States even want human equality and brotherhood to exist?”


Ever in Solidarity,

A Fellow Sojourner

Read My Letter To You

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