January 19, 2015

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

On this observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, it is good to reflect upon what Dr. King accomplished. I remember as a child growing up in Atlanta enjoying going to Lake Spivey. It was a small but pleasant lake that was a commercial enterprise. Going there was a special treat. It was only in reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” that I learned African-American children couldn’t go to Lake Spivey. As a youngster I was taught to respect people of color. If I wanted punishment from my mom just sass the maid. When my mom was away Mildred was in charge. Case closed. I also was learning to accept double standards. While I was to respect all people, a social system was in place that taught me to respect some types of people more than others.

Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement changed that. In my lifetime we moved from a society that was led exclusively by white males to one striving to be inclusive of all people. The Civil Rights Movement addressed specifically the injustices of race, but the King Legacy goes further. Martin Luther King’s work opened doors not only for African Americans but also women and people of same gender orientation. We have become a society that tries to respect what people do and accept who people are.

Is there more work ahead for our nation? Of course there is! Still, today is a time to stop and reflect. We are a better nation than we were in the 1950’s. We now draw upon the talents of a much wider array of people. We all have the opportunity to learn from one another in ways that a few generations earlier would have been impossible. Dr. King made this happen. In a sense he was a pioneer. He led us to a new way of life. He dared us to live into our national motto of “E Pluribus Unum.” “Out of Many, One.” Thanks be to God! With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,