Death by Silence

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Saturday, October 16, 2011, thousands gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  for the dedication ceremony of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.   Like many children, one of the first persons that I learned about when being taught African American history in school was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Though we began with American slavery, the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement, it seems that his name stuck out and that we stayed on the story of the Civil Rights Movement longer.  Perhaps, it is better said that the story stayed with me. 

He is remembered as the leader of the Civil Rights Movment, for sit-ins, boycotts and marches.  But, he is also remembered for his sermons, letters and speeches.  Dr. King was as a great orator, a courageous dreamer.  In fact, the “I Have a Dream” speech is listed as the greatest speech of the 20th century.  He was for me and so many others, a modern- day Moses, leading the children of America away from the turbulent history of racism and slavery toward the promised land and future of reconciliation and peace.  And though he will not get there with us, as he informed us during his delivery of the message now titled “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” delivered on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, I am encouraged this morning to keep looking up and to keep speaking this truth.

It has been said that silence is deadly but I would argue that we can also die silently.  What we knowingly prevent ourselves from saying and consequently, accepting can serve as one of the many little deaths of self that occur when living a racialized life.  With the acceptance and repetition of stereotypes, the practice of prejudice and self- segregation, we lose more of our voice, more of our unique presence.  We allow race to turn down the volume of our lives and in some instances, mute our very existence.  Persons say, “Speak truth to power” or “Speak the truth in love”; both of  which are directed toward others.  Today, I would challenge you to speak the truth to yourself as an expression of love and power.  Don’t just accept the constant attacks of race on your character and personhoood.  Don’t just sit back and say nothing to stop it. Talk and live.

Dr. King died but not quietly.  Even death could not prevent him from speaking; instead, it amplified his voice and enabled his message, which is but an expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be shared with others.  His life will never end because he spoke about the things that matter.  He spoke the truth.  So, what are you saying?

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Seeking to lead words and people to their highest and most authentic expression, I am the principal architect of a race/less world.

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