The official observance of Martin Luther King’s birthday will be on Monday, Jan. 18. Schools will be dismissed and government offices will be closed. The occasion will be observed locally at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, with the annual recommitment event sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Council. The event had been planned as a banquet to be held at the University of Arkansas campus, but it has been converted to a virtual event because of the situation with covid. Cedric Clark, vice president of Sam’s Club, will be the keynote speaker. Purchase tickets.
Several other events are planned from Saturday through Monday and are listed on a PDF provided by the King Council.
King was known not only as an important figure in American civic life but also as a significant Christian pastor whose ministry was the foundation of his civil rights work. He preached in African-American churches throughout the nation and also to predominantly white congregations and conferences.
King addressed the 1958 General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and discussed an imaginary letter the Apostle Paul might have written to the church in America. In 1965 King was the keynote speaker at the Christian Action Conference in Montreat, N.C., that was organized by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. to review the church and civil rights.
At the Montreat conference, King spoke about “The Church on the Frontier of Racial Tension.” An audio excerpt from his speech can be heard at Soundcloud. Here’s part of what he said there:
“If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live. He may be 36 years old as I happen to be. And some great truth and some great principle, some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right will stand before the door of his life. And he refuses to do it because he’s afraid. He’s afraid he will lose his church. He’s afraid he will even be shot at. He’s afraid that he, his home will be bombed. He’s afraid that he will lose his job. He’s afraid that he will be stabbed. He’s afraid that he will be murdered and he wants to live a long life. Well, he may go on and live until he’s 80, but he’s just as dead at 36 as he will be at 80 and the cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for what is right, for what is true, for what is just.”
King was killed three years later at age 39.
By Dave Edmark