Martin Luther King, Birmingham, and the Great John Piper

On April 3, 1963 Martin Luther King issued the “Birmingham Manifesto” (not the letter). He was 34 years old, married and with four children, one of them five days old. The manifesto called for all lunch counters, restrooms, and drinking fountains in downtown department stores to be desegregated. Some called the city the most segregated city in the country. Its bombings and torchings of black churches and homes had given it the name, “Bombingham” - the “Johannesburg of the South.” That day sixty-five blacks staged sit-ins in five stores, and Police Commissioner Bull Conner dragged twenty of them away to jail.

King arrived with unparalleled eloquence in the service of non-violence. In nightly meetings in the black churches he rallied the troops:

We did not hesitate to call our movements an army. But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity. No uniform but its determination, no arsenal, except its faith, no currency but its conscience. It was an army that would move but not maul. It was an army that would sing but not slay. It was an army to storm bastions of hatred, to lay siege to the fortress of segregation, to surround symbols of discrimination. (Stephen B. Oates, Let the Trumpet Sound, [New York: A Mentor Book, 1982], p. 210)

On April 13, Good Friday, 1963 King and his team refused to follow a court injunction that forbade peaceful marching. Such injunctions had been used to tie up peaceful direct action for years. Not this time. King met the barricades and the shouting Bull Conner, knelt beside his friend Ralph Abernathy, and was thrown into the paddy wagon and taken to the Birmingham City Jail. This was the 13th time King was arrested.

He was put in solitary confinement without mattress, pillow, or blanket. His situation improved when Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked why he was in solitary confinement. On Tuesday, April 16 he was brought a published letter signed by eight white clergymen of Alabama criticizing King and the peaceful movement of demonstrations. King felt inspired to write a response.

What came from his pen is today called Letter from Birmingham Jail. It has been called “the most eloquent and learned expression of the goals and philosophy of the nonviolent movement ever written.” (Let the Trumpet Sound, p. 222). Its message is relevant today. I recommend that everyone at Bethlehem read it. You can find it at dozens of places on the internet (for example, see this PDF).

We need to hear the power and insight with which King spoke to that generation of the sixties—enraging thousands and inspiring thousands. The white clergy had all said: Be more patient. Wait. Don’t demonstrate. He wrote:

Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policeman curse, kick, and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she’s told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “Nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears an outer resentments; when you are for ever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. (M. L. King, Letter from Birmingham Jail)

Finally he delivered a powerful call to the church which rings as true today as it did 38 years ago:

There was a time when the church was very powerful—in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. . . . But the judgment of God is upon the church [today] as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century. (Letter, p. 17)

We will be discussing this letter as part of our racial harmony weekend on Saturday, January 14. Continental breakfast is offered starting at 9:30. See you there.

Pastor John

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"...Secondly, Dr. King and his staff didn't have "crack" to deal with. Crack has pretty much destroyed our neighborhoods. There are so many crackheads here in Harlem, that its ridiculous. They look like zombies. They are oblivious to injustice. All that they want is that rock, and they will rob and kill their own people to get it. Somehow, we have to figure out a way to squell this problem."

You know Bro Anthony, a pastor was teaching about prayer and it's power and he spoke on fasting and it's power - that many have forgotten or it's not even being taught about any more.
We Americans are 'doers' and it seems that if we dont feel that we are doing things that are obvious or physical then we are being lazy. But the deal is to pray to the Lord IS really doing something.
Yet I think we miss a very important key. We dont do it collectively with one mind.

Do you remember the story of the tower of Babel - where the Word of God tells us that -
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there ...
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

God Almighty acknowleged that they all spoke the same thing and they would be able to do anything.
I believe they could have and would have did exactly what they set out to do which was to build a tower to reach heaven. I dont know which heaven but they would have did it if the Lord had of not confounded their language.

I think this story would be a testament and an encouragement to the Body of Christ that if we could all touch and agree and pray for this one thing and fast for this one thing -----> calling on Heaven for this one thing ---> Big things can and will happen.

There is nothing that ANYONE can tell me that it was not the strength of prayers for us to have a black president sitting in the white house today. Whether he aint the best man for the job or not. It was the collective calling on heaven for this one thing.
Thats what is so shocking to white people (the privileged). They are blessed by God and have been for a while thus they forgot from whom all blessing flow. They started to think that they deserved to be in power and thought they always would have that distinction - and they lost the hunger and the thirst - so what is the need for praying.
But those that hunger and thirst for a thing - those that are NOT privileged are just dumb enough to call on Heaven to move......And THE PEOPLE PRAYED ---> Hello Mr. President.

So to make a long story short. The question should be how can we collectively set our minds on calling on Heaven to kill the crack in our cities?

Any ideas, Brother Anthony?
Hi, this is such a powerful discussion you two are having, God bless you for bringing up such enlightening points.

Yes, Newview, I got that same truth out of the 'tower of babel' story. They did build a tower to reach the heavens and Nimrod, that wicked man, shot a arrow up into the heavens in defiance of the Living God.

Yet, the point the Holy Spirit brought out was the 'oneness'. Yahshua, said, the same thing, "I pray they will be ONE' as nothing will be impossible. Let us pray to this end. I know the Holy Spirit daily moves on the hearts of countless believers to pray to this end and I KNOW that the Holy Spirit will pour out His Spirit on the black community. This will soon take place, real soon. So you two, be of good cheer, the Father has not forsaken the faithful.

Remember the Spirit of the Almighty proclaims,, 'If MY people who are called by MY Name will humble themselves....then will I hear from heaven.' Oh yes, Yahshua has already raised up a people who have done just that so expect to hear mightily from heaven.

Hey, like you said, 'A BLACK PRESIDENT?' Oh yeah, Heaven has heard us and we have seen heaven's response i.e. yes, a black President.
We thank God for our deliverers, our Moses, it is now time, the season, to come up from our bended knees and look to Jesus.
Amen to your post brother. Everyone wants to go on bended knee for every problem we see but steer clear of the battlefield. Crackheads need more than our prayers, they need a dedicated team of people both in the community and the church to get drugs out and books in.

There is a joke of which I am sure you are familiar. The best place to hide something from a black person is in a book because blacks don't like to read. That may be funny to some but to me it's no laughing matter. We need to put on our marching shoes just like King and other civil rights leaders.
Well, Minister that joke is 'contemptously' funny seeing that I'm a black who loves to read, always have and from the intelligence all over these boards I see you all are too. So There, with regard to the cynicism of that joke.

Yet, on the other hand, it is a sad state of affairs. However, we shouldn't kick ourselves too much for reality it, yes I'm going to bring it up no matter who doesn't like it, 'racism' wrought the biggest portion of the sad state of affairs.

Remember in the 60's 'CointelPro' FBI crossdressing Edgar Hoover? He did all in his power to break up all attempts at educating and unifying blacks. In fact, this evil took place all over the South since the end of the Civil war. Everytime blacks would seek to educate blacks, white racists would come in and destroy the black who came forth and as so, that put an end to black progress.

The result, ignorance abounded and was passed down generation to generation. After, the death of Dr. King, the Civil Rights movement was dispersed and every man went his own way. In the book of Judges, the Bible tells us that the Hebrews/Israel did the very same thng.

Even amidst all of that let us never forget to thank all the righteus, wonderful blacks who continue to reach out and have successfully rescued many from a Willie Lynch spirit.

Let us thank each and every spirit-filled member of clergy, be they preachers, apostles, evangelists, Ministers, etc. for faithfully preaching the gospel and bringing souls into the kingdom who are transformed from a life of defeat and now, walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has set the captive free.

Now, that said, 'personal accountability' amidst injustice was once a prevalent rule among the then called 'Negro' people. That rule needs to be reinforced today as opportunities galore abound. Since they do, we know that 'satan' has a stronghold of blindness on factions of blacks that keeps them from reaching for the opportunities.

In a nutshell, it is the 'Willie Lynch' spirit of inferiority. That's why I call for weekly exorcism conferences to take place all over the black nation that the captive will go free. A lot of those young people are not stupid, they just have no self-esteem to believe they can fit in.

Not only that, we by the grace of God will once again have thriving black townships and cultures like unto Rosewood and Black Wall Street. This will happen.

Some blacks fit better in their community than in the overall American diverse world. They just do and as so, we need to create employment in our own community. This too, is already on the rise. We thank God for black restaurants, beauty and barber shops that survived. We now will have more black commerce coming in and that will benefit our community and America at large. That's the answer God IS already starting to bring about. As so, be of good cheer, all is not lost.
Watson, you know what I think is going to pull them off their 'prosperity' throne and bring the mega boys down to reality? It's the very ascension of Obama. We see that ascension was victorious in knocking down the wicked principalities, powers, and evil spirits of white racism that held the helms of power for 400yrs.

That is, for the first time in the history of America blacks do not fear racist behavior towards us coming from the White House like it did in the Republican eras. Even when the best intentioned Democrat Presidents held the helms of power they were forced to sometimes kowtow to the railings of the racist.

Now, for the first time in American history, we feel like FIRST CLASS CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES! That's what the Obama ascension wrought in the spiritual realm. Liberation from God has come to engulf us from on high, and Great and Loving is the God who brought this victory, amen?

Since that demonic spirit has been cast down all sorts of liberation and unity are now unleashed to come upon African/Americans to the betterment of all Americans. Just watch God work on that level.

Because God has wrought this victory, Satan's forces are enraged. Not repentant or merciful but enraged. As so, the trouble they are brewing will have to bring the mega male preachers down to reality to face the common foe whose evil will be exposed and destroyed. God really has had mercy on we the righteous American factions who have been loyal and honored God's true will and ways for America.

As for your second point, you are so right about the 'crack' heads. In the state they and the criminals, gangs, ignorant, uneducated walks in it keeps them from being the 'brothers and sisters' of the righteous amon gus rather, they are slaveshackled enemies to us just as much as the KKK is our enemy. Both would and have brought about death, destruction, torture, and evil to blacks. Both are of Satan and blacks must have just just this perspective about them in order to survive..

Granted we are to reach out to a lost and dying world with the message of salvation and deliverance but we are also to withstand them at all cost. That calls for skill, in the form of a neighborhood watch militia. Remember when the disciples realized that the Jews were coming for Paul? They became a militia of sorts and rescued Paul from their enemies grasp. The Bible says,," they snuck him out of the city via lowering him down the wall in a basket."

In the same like manner, we the righteous must pray down a skilled militia as if we don't, there will be no peace and 'no peace' ends up with destroyed neighborhoods where only the wicked prance around terrorizing the righteous. THIS MUST STOP!
Newview, this is wonderful post thanks for posting it. Before, I read the replies I want to give my first impression on all that is written by Dr. King. First thought is, 'we've come a long way with God on our side' amen?

I'm moved to see just how far we've come in just 46 yrs. What I mean is, I'm moved by all the advancements the righteous wrought for African/Americans. Just think, in 1963, we couldn't sit at a white lunch counter, in 2008, we sit in the White House as Commander-in-Chief. Imagine that!

I'm also a bit perturbed at the current state of Black America in light of the sacrifices made by these valiant, noble Black's disposition. They were beaten, battered, jailed, lynched, and killed to bring about 'liberty' and look at factions of us today. It's horrendous. I hope Pastor John speaks on this aspect that King's comments brings to mind.

We need a 'peace corp' to go into the hoods and such to reach out to a loss and dying generation of blacks. Such black's ignorance, violence, blindness and selfishness makes them a 'slaveshackled' enemy to African/Americans. Yes, they are the 'enemy within' who must, no WILL HAVE TO BE DEALT WITH one way or the other.

The reason being, they are killing AA's. They are stealing from and violating AA's. They are raping AA's. They are tearing up AA's communities and this must stop. It's time for LAW AND ORDER among us.

In my morning prayers just this morning, I prayed for Jennifer Hudson and her family. You all know Jennifer Hudson who was unjustly kicked off way too early from American Idol and then went on to star in 'Dreamgirls' and won a Oscar? Well, when the tragedy, senseless destruction that wrought the death of her mother, brother, and 7 yr. old nephew, I prayed God to send us a 'Neighborhood Watch Militia' that would put a stop to this ongoing madness in the black community. I still pray to that end for though we as believers feel bad for the lost and dying slaveshackled 'Wille Lynched' ignorant factions, we can no longer afford to let them terrorize us as a collective righteous people who want to get along. Yes, a well-trained, militia is the answer to keep ourselves safe while seeking to reach out with the liberating gospel is the answer. If not us, then who?

I hope Pastor John brings up this necessary point. Then there was the 8 white preachers or, in modern times, they would be called the ' Christian Right Republican' types.

"Wait" which is tantemaut to 'you all will get your rewards in the by and by, when Jesus comes back.' Yeah, I got your wait, no Dr. King had your 'wait' and laid it out eloquently. Sheer dynamite. Sheer spiritual dynamite comes out like that under great affliction. Here those devilish, fiends thought to 'torment' Dr. King and his followers via isolating him and as a result, he wrote one of the most moving spiritual commentaries ever. Wow, God's right, 'all things work together for good to the called.'

Oh, I could go on and on, and probably will as there is so many truths one can glean from the powerful commentary of Dr. King and the righteous who fought a good fight. We are in the last days, and the Bible tells us that one of the things that will take place is this, 'they that know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits' (Dn. 11:37).

What that means is a church, a people, will rise up and knock out a lot of satanic evil. I believe that will happen not only the world over on different levels but in the black community. I believe that will happen very soon, right away even. Not only did God through raising up Obama to the highest office of the land cast down the demonic principality of white racism but what that means is He prepared the way for miraculous leadership, wealth, prosperity, unity, health, to occur in the black culture of the righteous. He will knock out the 'Willie Lynch' evil from hindering us as a people. Oh, get ready for the miracles, it's a comin', Glory to God, it's a comin'!


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