I saw the movie Selma over the weekend. I was both deeply moved and greatly horrified. The theater was packed. The woman sitting to my left was a stranger to me. She was African-American. I noticed we both cried at the same points in the movie. I just think our tears may have been for different reasons.
I left the movie, spent and wanting to learn more about what really happened during that time in history. I had such a mix of feelings. First, disbelief that Bloody Sunday in Selma was less than 50 years ago. I couldn’t fathom that in my lifetime, people were prevented from voting because of the color of their skin. Secondly, I felt pride in the clergy who stood with King and others at that critical time in history. I wondered if I had been a pastor then, would I have marched or played it safe and silent? Then I wondered what issues need a pastoral voice in our time rather than the safe/silent treatment? Racism, still, marriage issues, immigration reform, domestic violence, mental health issues come immediately to mind. Thirdly, I felt apologetic and humbled, like I needed to apologize for the hideous actions of white people through the years. And lastly, I felt surprised at how real and vulnerable MLK was portrayed. He was flawed, conflicted and wavering at times. It makes sense, all leaders I know are like that. I felt grateful for him; for his leadership; for his sacrifice. It changed our country forever, thank God.
I’m glad we are coming around to see MLK Day as a “day on” not a “day off.” I love the idea of serving others on this day. Our church family celebrated the day by packing 20,000 plus meals for the hungry. Hundreds of volunteers made it happen. It was a huge undertaking led by the women of our church.
I only wish it was enough to right all the wrongs. It’s not of course. We have so far to go, so much to do and so much yet to learn. I know I do.