Over the recent holidays, I had the unique privilege of spending the afternoon at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro. It was indeed a special opportunity to better recognize the oppression and racism that existed for so long and to so many in our country. Professional, articulate, and conciliatory tour guides and staff were excellent. And given the frequency of publicly divisive comments and prejudicial thinking that sadly continues in some circles in our society, I highly recommend parents take their teenagers through this museum in order to fully engage their kids in this much discussed and hotly debated cultural issue.
On Monday, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On this day, we will reflect on his vision and sacrifice that brought more hope and needed change to our nation. In this week’s middle school and high school chapels, students remembered and celebrated the life of Dr. King as Rev. Santes Beatty, Director of Multi-Ethnic Ministries for the North Carolina East District of the Wesleyan Church and the Wesleyan denomination, shared a timely message of More Power – More Responsibility. He reminded students that “No matter what it is your dealing with, no matter what injustice God has called you to face, be still in those moments and know that He is God. It's hard to be counter-cultural. It's hard to push back against people who are mistreating others. It's hard to challenge a system that over and over creates things that harm families. God has called you to be a part of the solution."
Dr. King was a fourth generation minister whose mission in life was greatly impacted by his Christian heritage. Author, Michael Curtotti stated, “It is impossible to fully appreciate Martin Luther King’s work without understanding the role that Christian thought and inspiration played in his advocacy of human rights.” In fact, Martin Luther Sr. was given at birth the first name, Michael. However, when Martin Luther, Jr. was five-years-old, his father, who was also a civil rights activist, was so moved by the work of Martin Luther, the German theologian and the catalyst of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, he changed both his and his son’s names to Martin Luther. Both Rev. Kings saw Luther as a man who brought about change in the absence of violence. Even though the Reformation brought persecution of Protestants, Luther did not want his supporters to use violence against the Pope or Emperor. Nearly 450 years later, Martin Luther King, Jr. applied the same principle of nonviolent protests to proclaim that all people, no matter the color of their skin, are created equal in the eyes of God and should be able to pursue and enjoy a life of freedom.
It is well noted that King's constant supplication to the Lord was for all people to have a greater understanding for the safety of those who were standing up for freedom, that nonviolent protests would be victorious, and that there would be full reconciliation among people of every race.
Wesleyan's diversity statement is rooted with a biblical mindset using Galatians 3:23 as our foundation: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all in Christ." Unity in and under the authority of Jesus Christ is always our goal. With the above things in mind, we remind our families that the academy will be closed on Monday to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. King. On this day and throughout the year, may the Lord give us the grace and wisdom to follow Dr. King's model by taking a loving stand for truth and justice.
Dr. Rob Brown
Head of School