Memphis, racism, and significance for the BWC. The scars of April 4, 1968, and the preceding decades are alive and visible in the policies, geography, and mentality of today’s segregated city. A Memphian recently remarked that the city “still hasn’t come to terms with its deeply entrenched racism propping up white business.” Evidence of this exists in the tourist contours of downtown and in the dilapidated neighborhoods hugging major throughways.
In his Mountaintop speech delivered April 3, Dr. King spoke of “The Jericho Road” found in the parable of the Samaritan in Luke 10. Dr. King answered the Pharisee’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” by standing in solidarity with the Memphis’ Sanitation Workers. The pulpit was situated at the picket line. His stand in Memphis and the many he had taken prior had deadly consequences for him, and profound implications for this country.
At the time of his assassination, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were preparing a mass demonstration of the Poor People’s Campaign for Washington, D.C. By visiting cities like Memphis, Dr. King highlighted the country’s enduring economic disparities mired in racism.
Fifty years hence, the road remains steep as we look out on the landscape of the U.S. and its faith communities. United Methodists still have much to address about our racial inheritance and where God may yet lead us toward repentance and renewal. The critique that Dr. King issued from a Birmingham Jail continues to challenge pastors, congregations, and our broader agencies.
The BWC, through the Northeastern Jurisdiction’s Call to Action, has invited congregations “to engage in conversations and experiences that help them take the next step toward becoming racial justice change agents”. In a spirit of sacred remembrance, it is proposed that lay and clergy of the Baltimore-Washington Conference pilgrimage to Memphis.
As a soulful Sojourn of remembrance, this trip (April 3-7, 2018) commemorates the life of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., marking the 50th Anniversary of his assassination, April 4, 1968, and the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. Through the lens of Civil Rights and the Poor People's Campaign, we will consider what it means to work for King's Beloved Community today. We will visit historic sites, hear from dynamic speakers, and engage in daily prayer. Upon return, participants are invited to share their experiences in community as we continue the pursuit of racial justice and renewal throughout the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Learn more.