[W]e are challenged to eradicate the last
vestiges of racial injustice from our nation.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”
At Friday’s St. Louis Business Journal State of St. Louis Breakfast, Rev. Starsky Wilson referenced Martin Luther King’s “Remaining Awake Through a Revolution” speech. I had not read this speech before, so I took some time to find it this weekend, and I believe that Dr. King’s message from 1968 is still relevant today. Here is an excerpt:
“The hour has come for everybody, for all institutions of the public
sector to the private sector to get rid of racism. And now if we are
to do it we must honestly admit certain things and get rid of certain
myths that have constantly been disseminated all over our nation.
One is the myth of time. It is the notion that only time can solve the
problem of racial injustice. And there are those who often sincerely
say to the Negro and his allies in the white community, ‘Why don’t
you slow up? Stop pushing things so fast. Only time can solve the
This section resonated with me because just two weeks ago, the students in the African American Literature class at Crossroads read WEB Du Bois’ “Of our Spiritual Strivings” from his book of essays and sketches The Souls of Black Folk. What the students found remarkable, compelling, and disheartening is that they recognize as being current and relevant the same forms of injustice and racism that Du Bois describes in 1908. The myth of time as a solution to racism really is a myth.
Whether we are reading Du Bois, listening to King, or responding to teenagers in our time, the challenge to “eradicate the last vestiges of racial injustice from our nation” resounds. I hope that you and your family and friends are able to honor the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., in such a way that it responds to the challenge he names despite the myth of time and despite whatever fatigue you might feel in the face of racial injustice, and I hope that, as a community, we are able to stay awake and alert to one another’s experience and effort with humility and love.
With great expectations,