Every year as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day approaches, I make a point to re-read King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The letter is addressed to “My Dear Fellow Clergymen,” and goes on to name the ways the “white moderate church” has been an obstacle to the civil rights movement. It’s a letter that captures an important historical moment in our country. It reminds us how far our country has come in fits and starts and how very far we have to go towards racial equality and equity. It’s always a letter that makes me ask myself: what would I do if I were one of the clergy King was writing to then?
At the beginning of 2019, a friend emailed me an article to ask me what is going on in Wisconsin. The headline read, “Wisconsin Is The Most Segregated State in America.” Find it here.
In the article the claim in expanded to say in a recent study it was looking at racial integration. “The study defines racial integration as the disparity between white and black Americans in terms of achieving wealth, employment, education, social engagement, and health.” To look at the map and breakdown in the article, the Midwest has some work to do. It also gave me pause to realize that I don’t need to wonder what I would if I were one of the people receiving King’s letter because there are very real opportunities in our own time which call us to respond.
MLK day is a time to look back at our history, to tell those stories ugly as they are, so that we can tell a different story going forward.
Check out the events planned in Appleton for MLK Day here.