Posted by: morgan1965 | January 15, 2018

An Open Letter to President Trump on the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

An Open Letter to President Donald Trump

January 15, 2018

 

Dear President Trump:

Today, January 15, 2018, America is celebrating the 89th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, and fifteen years later (November 2, 1983) a national holiday was established to honor his legacy. Although Dr. King became somewhat of a legend in his own lifetime, his legacy cannot be denied or erased from our American history.

The King legacy is ensconced in the dynamic reality that he disrupted the segregationist norms of the nation. His demonstrations paralyzed and confused public and private power structures. With conviction, he practiced civil disobedience. Love was the regulating ideal for all that he did in leading the nonviolent protest movement in the effort to end racial segregation and discrimination in America.

I note, however, that last Thursday, in a meeting on immigration with lawmakers, it was reported that you made some racially charged comments that disparaged millions of people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries. This language, unfortunately, is an example of your failure to provide moral leadership. You seem to be more content to divide, rather than to unite America.

America, as you know, fought a divisive civil war over the issue of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln in a courageous move issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves in those states that were in rebellion. After the war ended, slavery finally was banned by the ratification of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (December 6, 1865). Slavery, however, was followed by Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation and discrimination in the private and public sectors of our nation.

Dr. King was chosen for leadership as African Americans began to renew the resistance to segregation and discrimination. One example was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which ended on December 21, 1957. This boycott was organized and conducted by the Montgomery Improvement Association under the presidency of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During his years of leadership in the civil rights movement, Dr. King met with a variety of people, including the presidents of the United states. He and other civil rights leaders met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in June 1958. It was President Eisenhower who sent in federal troops to enforce integration of the public schools in Little rock, Arkansas. Dr. King’s purpose in meeting with US presidents was to encourage them to utilize the moral persuasion of their office to end segregation and to use their political clout to gain appropriate civil rights legislation.

Dr. King met privately with Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in June of 1960. On February 4, 1961, Dr. King published a letter (“The Nation”, February 4, 1961) to newly-elected President Kennedy and said: “An area in which the President can make a significant contribution toward the elimination of racial discrimination is that of moral persuasion. The President is the embodiment of the democratic personality of the nation, both domestically and internationally. His own personal conduct influences and educates.” In October 1961, Dr. King met with President Kennedy and urged him to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation. In his own way, President Kennedy helped to pave the way for the ultimate passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

When President Lyndon B. Johnson took the presidential reigns from the late President Kennedy, he rose to the occasion and used the moral persuasion and political clout of the oval office, as well as his legislative savvy, to gain passage of the floundering Civil Rights Act.

Mr. President, in times like these, the nation needs moral leadership from the oval office. In Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” ((April 16, 1963), he noted that he had been labeled as an extremist. He countered that argument by referencing some folk who he believed were extremists. “Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? – ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free’.” “Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist?” – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” When a leader does the right thing, that which is prophetic, he/she runs the risk of being labeled an extremist as in the case of Dr. King.

Dr. King went on to say: “…the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?” There are some Americans who want to know whether you are willing and able to be an extremist for right, for justice, for political and economic equality, and for the love of all God’s people?

Finally, Mr. President, you constantly express the desire to “make America great again.” In his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in this speech described what must happen “if America is to be a great nation.” A great nation is one where “we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” I share these reflections with you in the spirit of passionate patriotism, abiding peace and devotion to my God and country.

Respectfully and Prayerfully,

ESL

 

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Beautiful. Thank you for laying out the historic Presidential conversations about civil rights.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: