The Sacred Feminine in action.

Climbing to the The Mountaintop, Part 1

Today is a great day for me—it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! I am a committee member for the DuPage County MLK Celebration tonight at Elmhurst College. Click here for details. If possible, join us!!

If you know me, you know I am a devotee of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am a 52 year-old white mother of four living in the heart of the Midwest. My county, (DuPage is west of Chicago), is not the poster county for diversity. The 2010 census showed that we are 70% white, 5% black, 10% Asian, 13% Hispanic and 2% other. Sadly, I learned very little about MLK in school. I barely remember him being shot in 1968 since I was only 8 years old. So, perhaps you wonder why I have such an affinity to the man, Martin Luther King. There are several reasons and I will tell you, but I highly encourage you read The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  edited by Clayborne Carson. You will learn a lot. In a nutshell, Dr. King created the Sacred Feminist “toolbox.”

My first reason for admiring MLK is his brilliance. Many people don’t realize how intelligent he was. He graduated from high school at the age of 15 and then graduated from Morehouse College, entered Crozer Theological Seminary and was ordained to the Baptist ministry at the age of 19. When he was 22 he entered Boston University where he later received a doctorate in Systematic Theology.

The second reason is his clarity and focus. I believe the reason MLK’s initiatives were successful was because he was so focused. He didn’t take on the entire civil rights movement at first. He tackled the bus situation in Montgomery. Gained success from that initiative and moved on to the next thing. His successes gave him credibility and momentum. Brilliant!

Clarity and focus lead me to the third reason; he created an effective model for change. After studying with Gandhi, Dr. King embraced the big picture, the commitment to nonviolence, and the need for a plan. The model he used over and over (Montgomery bus strike, sanitation workers strike) was successful. It can be applied to problems TODAY and I believe he intended this model to grow beyond the civil rights movement.

Fourth is his courage. His family was threatened repeatedly. He knew that not only was he in danger but his children were, too. He was jailed, shamed, watched as others were victims of violence and still was able to hold his course and see a bigger picture. Honestly, I don’t know how he did it. I believe he knew he would sacrifice his life for the cause.

Fifth, he didn’t accept the status quo. He stood at the bottom of the mountain of racism that was full of ignorance, intimidation, violence, government support, did I say ignorance? (Sound like any problems we face today?) There were a lot of people who didn’t want that mountain to move. But he used his breath to create the winds of change that did move a mountain.

And, possibly the most inspiring quality about Dr. King, that keeps me hopeful and encouraged about the ability to bring change…he didn’t hold a high post in government or business and he wasn’t perfect. I have often heard folks tell me, “You know, he plagiarized,” or “You know, he was quite a womanizer.”   And I love to respond, “I know, isn’t it great!” Well, maybe not so great for his wife. But, he made such a huge difference in the lives of so many people and he was just like us. He made mistakes. SO, WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD, TOO!

Imagine the change we can each make in the world if we apply our God-given intelligence with clarity, focus, courage and commitment using a model for nonviolent change like Rev. King did. That’s climbing to the mountaintop. And you know what that means… we WILL get to the other side. As a Sacred Feminist, I will hold that vision!

I would love to hear your thoughts about Dr. King. Please leave a comment so we all can join in community to celebrate his life! Oh gosh, that could be a whole blog post— Dr. King loved to talk about the beloved community!!!

 Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of my tribute to Dr. King. On Wednesday I will talk about why Dr. King is sometimes given credit for starting the feminist movement (it isn’t what you think). On Thursday I will talk about how I am trying to apply MLK’s model to two initiatives. 

3 Responses to “Climbing to the The Mountaintop, Part 1”

  1. Karen Brennan says:

    I, too, love MLK! I look forward to being a part of the DuPage County celebration of his life tonight. Thanks for all of your insight. See you tonight!!!
    🙂 Karen

  2. Judith Tripp says:

    I just heard an excerpt of Dr. King’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. I heard the whole thing last year on our local Pacifica station on MLK day. It is a shining example of his vision and prescience. I always wonder what our world would be like today if we had had him a bit longer. Thanks for doing this, dear Ellen.


  1. Climbing to the Mountaintop, Part 2 | Sacred Feminist - [...] Monday, in Part 1 of this three part post I told you why I think Martin Luther King, Jr.…
  2. Climbing to the Mountaintop, Part 3 | Sacred Feminist - [...] Dr. King’s spirit around me. Hopefully, this work would make him proud. And as I mentioned in part one…
  3. Happy MLK Day! | Sacred Feminist - […] Climbing to the Mountaintop Part 1 […]

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