At a time when we are constantly trying to decide on the appropriate roles for Christians and the church to take in the politics of nations, it is timely that we should recall the work of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we will celebrate on Monday. King famously said, ““An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
It is essential to avoid turning the church into a vehicle for political squabbling — or even worse, into a mouthpiece for politicians. At the same time, we must acknowledge that it’s very difficult for individuals or churches to address the broader concerns of all humanity in meaningful ways without engaging political systems. King brought both his Christian vision and his church into many aspects of our culture, including the political, to work toward effecting the changes that he believed God wanted in the world. He didn’t soil his religion by interacting with politics, perhaps because his main concern was moving mountains rather than scoring points.
As we decide how the church and individual Christians should engage the world politically, we can profit from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s example. Here are some online resources to help us remember King’s life and work.
- YouTube has videos of several of Dr. King’s speeches, including I Have a Dream, The Other America, and I Have Been to the Mountaintop. You can also find recordings (though they lack video footage) of many of his speeches here.
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (often called The King Center), established by Coretta Scott King in 1968, offers many resources for people who wish to learn more about King’s life and work. It includes a digital archive of thousands of writings associated with King’s work and an extensive bibliography for people who wish to read more about King and nonviolent protest.
- Cornell University has a research guide to Martin Luther King that includes videos, recordings, transcripts of his speeches, and helpful websites as well as book recommendations. (It’s designed for use in their library, but it is very helpful for general use as well.)
- The King Center has a page where you can download your dreams for the future and read about other people’s dreams. A great activity for kids and adults both!
- National Geographic Kids has a kid-friendly page on King.
- YouTube has several videos for kids about King’s life. Try this video by Kid President and this mini-biography of King’s life.
- This short excerpt from King’s I Have a Dream speech can be used to begin discussion about the man and his work.
We hope these resources help you as you remember the Rev. King’s life this weekend and next week.