Monday, January 19, 2009

The Celebration and Challenge of Truth and Hope

In assessing the impact of Martin Luther King's like and legacy today, we will obviously think of the most dramatic progress in American History, relative to race relations: the inauguration of our first African-American president.

There are many who have tried to pick apart and parse the significance of this moment. But this historic moment speaks volumes regarding how far we have come as a country. Obama legitimately claims a place in the pantheon of African-American history, by making an indelible mark on American history. Only abysmal failure can cause him to lose that place - and even then, all of us would share the blame.

But the legacy of King spreads even further than Obama's election and inauguration tomorrow.
King's work and the Obama presidency are both celebratory and challenging. The nation celebrates, and every segment and subset of our nation is challenged. The challenge for every American, is the positive and authentic contribution to this country's good. The celebration and challenge has meaning to African-Americans especially, but not exclusively. Yet the acceptance of that challenge places a fairly unique responsibility on the shoulders of the African-American community.

Dr. William Turner, Jr., professor of homiletics at Duke University, and African-American pastor, assesses this connection between King, Obama, the responsibility of predominately black churches, the continued need for prophetic preaching and what we owe one another relative to passing on a torch of hope.

And yet what William Turner says, is, like the truth that King spoke and the hope that Barack Obama represents, good for us all.

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