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Getting To The Promised Land

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has always been one of those figures in my life that I have looked up to. Of course his vision and leadership for a more just world is powerful, but I’ve also connected with his social justice work stemming from his faith. That his drive and dedication to correcting the injustices in our society and the world were about living up to his wider purpose on this earth. He spoke like a preacher, used the literal words and ideas of Scripture to paint a picture of justice and freedom, and taught us to have faith that we would overcome oppression and hatred.

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Discussing Dr. King’s legacy (J. Spector)

Dr. King’s faith and pursuit of justice is why I think it’s so important that people of faith hear his clear call for moral laws to guide our society. Last week, I spoke with more than 100 Jewish high school students on Long Island about Dr. King’s vision for a better world and what they can do every single day to live up to that vision. We explored my own family’s history of overcoming injustice, microaggressions and implicit bias, how to have radical empathy, and how each and every one of us can pursue justice, compassion, and love. Below are some excerpts from this event:


“Good morning everyone, I’m so grateful to be with you all this morning. So…why am I here? I’m here today because we have some more work to do.  We have more work to do to ensure each and every person receives respect, dignity, and love. We have more work to do to ensure our world is one of justice, wholeness, and compassion. I’m also here today because of two men – Ed Hill and Peter Baumgarten. One of them escaped the horrors of slavery and the other escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. And yet, after all of their sacrifices, I still do not feel free as a Black and Jewish man in 2018.”

“I’m here today because we still have work to do to ensure all of our freedoms – to live in a Promised Land flowing with justice, love, safety, and hope. To live in a Promised Land that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned more than 50 years ago, for a country and world where all people will ‘be able to join hands and sing in the words of that old Negro spiritual, Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last’.”

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Sharing about my family history of overcoming oppression (J. Spector)

“And if we’re going to succeed [in building a world of justice and love], it’s going to take all of us. And coming together will only happen if we build strong relationships and see the bridges that lead us to one another.”

“Radical empathy takes some work. We need to slow down. We need to think about the experiences and feelings of others more often, especially those who don’t look like us or may come from different places. We need to walk in their shoes. Or, as Atticus Finch would say, we need to climb into their skin. And that only happens when we get to know people, and they get to know us. When we build relationships.”

“There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance.”– Dr. King

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Student who facilitated conversations with their peers on racial justice

“You know, Moses never made it to the Promised Land. After all of that work and courage, he never made it. And this year on April 4th, is the 50th anniversary of the killing of Dr. King. 50 years. And while we remember him today and on Monday and on his yartzheit in April, I want to talk about April 3rd, 1968. Because, on that day in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. King, in his last speech, felt like a prophet:”

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” – Dr. King

“We will get to the Promised Land. I truly believe that. But it’s going to take all of us though doing everything we can to make it happen.”

1 comment on “Getting To The Promised Land

  1. Pingback: Remembering Our Modern Day Moses – Evan L. Traylor

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