Last year I got to hear Rev. Irene Monroe speak at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation at Susquehanna University. I always appreciate the ways that Monroe brings her whole self to her work as a woman who is Black, queer, a person of faith, a scholar, and more. She embodies the intersections she speaks about in her articles and talks.
Today she published a Faith in Action opinion piece, King’s Dream Went Beyond Race. She writes:
For King, justice was more than a racial issue, more than a legal or moral issue. Justice was a human issue. And this was evident in King’s passionate concern about a wide range of concerns: “The revolution for human rights is opening up unhealthy areas in American life and permitting a new and wholesome healing to take place,” King once told a racially mixed audience. “Eventually the Civil Rights Movement will have contributed infinitely more to the nation than the eradication of racial injustice.”
Moral leadership played a profound role in the justice work that King did. He argued that true moral leadership must involve itself in the situations of all who are damned, disinherited, disrespected and dispossessed, and moral leadership must be part of a participatory government that is feverishly working to dismantle the existing discriminatory laws that truncate full participation in the fight to advance democracy. And surely part of our job in keeping King’s dream alive is to also work to dismantle discriminatory laws and dehumanizing structures that we see young people now taking to the street to protest about across the country.
But if King were among us today, he would say that it is not enough just to look outside ourselves to see the places where society is broken. It is not enough to talk about institutions and workplaces that fracture and separate people based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. We must also look at the ways that we ourselves manifest these bigotries, how we are the very ones who uphold and are part of these institutions and workplaces.
She goes on to point out:
King would remind each of us that we cannot heal the world if we have not healed ourselves. So perhaps the greatest task, and the most difficult work we must do in light of King’s teachings, is to heal ourselves. And this work must be done in relationship with our justice work in the world.
Read the article for yourself. Monroe offers clear direction and without shaming anyone, helps us see that we have work to do within ourselves as well as in the wider world.
MLK, JR image Credit Vanderbilt University.