On my "rest day" in Memphis I visited the National Civil Rights Museum. It's located on the site of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. It's displays, pictures, documents, and videos (see blog) transported me back in time to a very formative period in my life.
I can remember vividly hearing MLK speak at a Luther League (youth) Convention in Miami Beach in the early 60's. He challenged us to live our faith beyond Sunday to the rest of the week and outside of church to the streets of our lives. At the time I was living in a small town in Iowa and "diversity" wasn't about color but about Swedes/Norwegians/Germans. Over the years Dr. King's writing/speeches/vision have continued challenge me. Several other "movements" (Peace, Women, Environmental) have also shaped my spirituality and life direction. They still do. My river pilgrimage is partly prompted by my deep concern and care for the planet and all creation.
I had forgotten why Dr. King was in Memphis that day. He had come to support the sanitation workers (garbage collectors) whose wages and working conditions were deplorable. The rallying cry of their protests were clear and simple, "I AM A MAN!"
The night before he was shot, he uttered those still breath-taking words, "I might not be with you, but that does not matter. For I have been to the mountaintop. My eyes have seen the glory!"
I met a bright young Afro-American woman today. Her name is Kenyarda. She is a special ed teacher and has begun work on her Master's degree. In her I see a bit of that "glory"!