Finding Hope for Justice in Stories from the Past

The courage of past generations emboldens us to live faithfully in our own generation. 

This first dawned me a few weeks ago. I'm taking a class called “Theology and Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr.” and our first week’s reading assignments were all about his earliest influences and experiences as a young Black man in the South.

As I read through texts on Dr. King’s formative years, I found myself in tears as I realized that Dr. King wrestled with many of the same vocational questions I do as a follower of Jesus who hopes to embody a faith that transforms broken places in our society. He wrestled with how to release his hatred towards a race of people who hated him so much. He wrestled with whether or not to make a home in the southern United States where racism and Jim Crow were so prevalent. He wrestled with whether or not to tie his life purpose to the work of social and racial justice, fearful that he would become pigeonholed and seen as the “black preacher” who only talks about race. 

These are the same tensions that I wrestle with as a leader who cares about becoming an agent of healing in the racist society we live in. It is deeply encouraging to look back at history and see a mirror of my own story.

I am willing to bet that as you have thought about race and your faith, you too have wondered about your place in the conversation. You’ve had hard questions, and you have wondered if anyone in your skin has made the kind of impact you dream about. I firmly believe that it is hard to be what you cannot see. As young faith leaders in the work of social change, we need to see ourselves reflected in the history of this movement. In order to see our reflections, we need to create space in our lives for discipleship and formation that lets us explore our racial and ethnic identities and how they affect the world we live in. 

In order to help, some friends and I are creating a couple of opportunities for you to engage your racial + ethnic identity in new ways. Check them out below! 

Much love + keep flourishing, friends. 

Bethaney