There is irony and poetic justice in the timing of Dr. Martin Luther
King’s day of honor, the Inauguration of the first African-American
president, and the March for Life on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in
the same week. Dr. King’s presence is powerful through it all, so great
was his place in the historical fight for human rights.

Bishops Harry Jackson, Chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, co-author of Personal Faith, Public Policy….had this insight about the moment.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in
moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of
challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position,
his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous
valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten
brother to a higher and more noble life.” When Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. wrote those stirring words in 1963, he was up to his neck in
controversies, struggling to build a movement and gain support for the
cause of civil rights at a time when the resistance from forces seen
and unseen was overwhelming.

He had carried out successful voter registration drives in Georgia,
Alabama, and Virginia by that time, and in August of 1963 he would lead
the now legendary March on Washington. When he addressed that crowd of
nearly a quarter million men, women, and children from the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King laid out for all Americans a dream of
reconciliation and renewal that would change the conversation about
race relations forever. He helped America to understand that
reconciliation isn’t about division but addition, and about the process
of bringing us together as a nation.

Perched on the threshold of this new presidency, Bishop Jackson
recalls the integrity of that movement. He challenges the incoming
president to uphold it, and Ameircans to pray.

Although I don’t always agree with all of Barack Obama’s
policies, politics, or philosophies; I must celebrate his unique place
in history. He represents the fulfillment of King’s dream for all
American’s – black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. Like a relay runner
receiving the baton in the final leg of the race, Barack Obama has
received the baton from Dr. King and others. Dr. King, if he were here,
might pray the following prayer for the new president, “I thank you,
Heavenly Father, for the tremendous journey this visionary nation has
taken in Your name. Today’s America has journeyed light years from the
social background of the pre-civil rights era, from the period of
lynching, sitting in the back of the bus, and suffering with
intolerable working conditions. Today’s America will never again have
urban children who feel as though drug dealers are their only role
models or that the end of the welfare line is a reasonable career
destination. Today’s America will truly see that the child of an
immigrant can compete with the descendents of the Rockefellers and the
Hiltons.

May President Obama run his leg of the race with skill, dignity,
rhythm, and class. May President Obama prove the greatness of his
character at times of challenge and controversy. May he be the true
neighbor that risks his position and popularity to do what’s best for
the nation You have chosen to be a beacon of Hope to the world. Lord,
continue to bless America! In Jesus name I pray!”

Amen.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....