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Patriotism On Parade: How I Grew Up Wanting To Be Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., American Patriot

March 1965: American civil rights campaigner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery. Among those pictured are, front row, politician and civil rights activist John Lewis (1940 – 2020), Reverend Ralph Abernathy (1926 - 1990), Ruth Harris Bunche (1906 - 1988), Nobel Prize-winning political scientist and diplomat Ralph Bunche (1904 - 1971), activist Hosea Williams (1926 – 2000, right carrying child). (Photo by William Lovelace/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

As an elementary school student, going forward and growing up in Saint Louis, I wanted to be like professional baseball players Lou Brock, Reggie Jackson and also like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of my most vivid memories as a grade school student comes from when I was in third grade, when my school played Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech over the loudspeakers in our classroom.

There was not a dry eye in the room, except for the teacher, who exhorted us to remember that Dr. King was assassinated and died for us.

We did.

I remembered that Mr. King did not die for the forgiveness of the world's sins. Only Jesus did that. Dr. King was an ambassador for the risen King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Savior, the one and only true God, Jesus Christ the World Mover.

When I was in elementary school, there was not yet a national holiday for Dr. King, but the movement designed to achieve it was in motion.

MLK, Jr. led the vaunted, historic and wildly successful Civil Rights Movement, as the Southern Leadership Conference's first president, circa 1957, and eventually became a martyr for minority rights and patriotism.

Jesus died for the remission of our sins and gifted whosoever believes in Him eternal life.

To Black kids in predominantly-Black public schools, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was more of a lifestyle patriot than the former Presidents of the United States - Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan combined.

He was more of a hero to us than Muhammad Ali or anyone else, other than Christ Jesus.

The public school system didn't teach us, in books, about international statesmen and global heroes like Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, Malcolm X or even controversial leaders in the community like Elijah Muhammad.

Mr. Muhammad, the former leader of the Nation of Islam, had a weekly radio broadcast scheduled in the late Sunday night into early Monday morning local time slot.

My mother could only sleep with the radio on. And I could hear Muhammad chanting something in Arabic on Sunday nights.

Martin Luther King, Jr. only spoke English - a language he mastered more than most, as he was a minister's son, an accomplished and distinguished preacher of the word of God, himself, the leader of a Baptist congregation in Atlanta as well as of Christian freedom riders and followers from all over the world.

My siblings and I come from a Christian church-going family, as our parents were church officials and gospel singers in one of America's first African-American independent denominations that dates back to the days before the American Civil War.

When I was in the fourth grade, I was selected to read excerpts of the "I Have a Dream" speech while standing on a podium in front of my classmates, teachers and family during an assembly in the school gymnasium.

Today, I write and speak for many longtime Christians, new Christians and future Christians reading this post, and for people in general, when I say "Happy birthday, Dr. King. Thank you for what you did for us. Let the Lord be praised."

May Dr. King's Christ-inspired dream come fully to life, without hesitation. There is more work to do.

Long live the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

1 comment




Good article

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