When will the rioting in Ferguson, MO stop? There has been much mayhem---including the police using tear gas---and much looting in the St. Louis suburb. The media covers this story heavily. Some estimate there may be as many media members as there are protesters.
All of this follows the shooting death of a black teenager, Michael Brown, allegedly by a white police officer the previousSaturday (8/9/14). Though the facts are sketchy, many are convinced that an injustice has been done.
The reaction has created an additional crisis. Reports indicate that thugs from all over have descended on Ferguson to take advantage of the chaos, to get “justice” “by any means necessary.” How? By putting small shop owners out of business by looting? By changing Ferguson into a war zone? Said C. S. Lewis: “The devil is always trying to trick us to extremes.”
Here we are 51 years to the month (8/28/63) after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. articulated his vision for a color-blind society, and some things seem to be worse. “I have a dream…”
Surely, America has made great progress in its race problem since the night in 1955 when Rev. King hosted a meeting in the basement of his Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama to deal with the crisis of Rosa Parks’ arrest for not giving up her seat to a white man.
That meeting led to a successful bus boycott and launched the civil rights movement.
Dr. King said in 1955, “If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, ‘There lived a great people---a black people---who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.’ This is our challenge and our overwhelming responsibility.”
He also quoted Booker T. Washington, a premier leader of African-Americas after the Civil War, who said, “Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him.”
King sought to lead the civil rights movement in a non-violent way. He said in 1963, “We must meet hate with creative love….Let us hope there will be no more violence. But if the streets must flow with blood let it flow with our blood in the spirit of Jesus Christ on the cross.”
Fast forward to today. How are we doing overall on the racism front?
America elected and re-elected the first African-American president, something virtually unimaginable in Dr. King’s time. Yet the incident in Ferguson shows that deep divides remain.