john davies
notes from a small curate


    Blue Coat School 12/3/2003

    Luke 11.5-10

    Martin Luther King, Jr., the black civil rights leader, had a dream.

    He dreamt that someday the children of former slaves and of former slave owners would be able to sit down together at the table as one family, and live in a nation where they would be judged "not by the color of their skins, but by the content of their characters."

    To make that dream come true, Martin Luther King, Jr., laid his life on the line to end segregation in the United States. He mobilized all the black people against discrimination. He taught them to do this in love, not hate; with soul force rather than with physical force. It took perseverance.

    Kingšs first move was to organize a boycott against the segregated bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. Fifty thousand black people refused to ride on the buses until all passengers were treated fairly.

    This made many white people who believed in segregation very angry. Someone even bombed Martin Luther King's house. Only by a miracle were his young wife and baby not killed. He refused to retaliate violently, but kept up his campaigning.

    King had a dream, and no one could kill it.

    Next, students and civil rights workers staged nonviolent sit-ins, demonstrations and marches in many cities. There were legal battles to desegregate the schools. A massive voter registration campaign began, to win black people the vote.

    Opponents insulted the demonstrators, they threw rocks and bottles at them, they beat them, they hauled them off to jail. And many were even killed. King personally led many of the marches. he was jailed many times.

    But King had a dream, and that dream would not die.

    Finally he turned his attention to the northern cities. He saw the terrible poverty, the racial hostility.

    King moved his family to a ghetto tenement in Chicago and started an intensive campaign there, for better schools, better jobs, and better housing, again to great opposition.

    But Martin Luther King had a dream. And that dream could not be killed.

    But the man could be. People had threatened to kill King so often that he knew that probably one day someone would carry out that threat. On April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, King was shot dead. He who had dedicated his whole life to nonviolence died by an assassin's bullet.

    Martin Luther King was dead, but his dream was not. That dream persists that some day all people will sit down together at one table as equals. It is carried by many people working in politics and community organisations, in this city and across the world.

    The pursuit of dreams creates perseverance. Perseverance creates the conditions for dreams to come true.

      Let No One Steal Your Dreams

      Let no one steal your dreams
      Let no one tear apart
      The burning of ambition
      That fires the drive inside your heart

      Let no one steal your dreams
      Let no one tell you that you can't
      Let no one hold you back
      let no one tell you that you won't

      Set your sights and keep them fixed
      Set your sights on high
      Let no one steal your dreams
      Your only limit is the sky.

      Let no one steal your dreams
      Follow your heart
      Follow your soul
      For only when you follow them
      Will you feel truly whole

      Set your sights and keep them fixed
      Set your sights on high
      Let no one steal your dreams
      Your only limit is the sky
        by my mate, accomplished poet and performer Paul Cookson

        story adapted from Cornelia Lehn, Peace be with You (Newton, Kansas, Faith and Life Press, 1980), from Metanoia Book Service at the London Mennonite Centre