Archive for the 'martin luther king' Category

What were they thinking?

You never know what occurs when you lay a solid foundation

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the heat of the Washington sun they lined up hand-to-hand in an assembly line-like formation as they passed each stone, from one to another until the man at the end of the line placed the stone in its final resting place. They braved the cruel winters of wind blowing across the Potomac as they labored to build a house that would be home to their country’s president.

They took the lashings when the boss thought their work seemed sub-standard. They sang hymns that lifted spirits that had been broken. They broke their back to construct America’s masterpiece.

In recent months I’ve been thinking about what must have been running through the minds of the slaves who poured blood, sweat and tears into constructing the home of America’s President? Amidst the cruelty of slavery, what were their thoughts as they placed those stones that laid a foundation for what the world now considers as a “Monument of Royalty and Peace?”

When they put that last stone in place did they think the United States would one day elect a President of their color? Realizing their spirit I’m sure those slaves didn’t question the matter with ‘if’ but ‘when.’

Although I didn’t vote for President elect Obama I am happy to say my country took a gigantic step toward healing the wounds of those Georgetown slaves, those who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and those who braved the fire hoses of Birmingham.

I just wish Dr. King could have been here to see it.

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A Man Who Defined Forgiveness: Rev. Wade Watts

Reverend Wade WattsWhen hurt by someone all of us find it hard to forgive, forget and move forward. The thought of making a positive change in the life of the person who has hurt you would be the farthest from our minds. The story of Reverend Wade Watts is one that shows us the power of forgiveness and how the results of forgiveness cannot only change your attacker but the entire world. Below is the account given from the person who was transformed from his attacker to his best friend.

Wade was very prominent in community affairs, shaping the destiny of Oklahoma from 1968 to 1984 serving as both the Oklahoma State President of the N.A.A.C.P and Executive Director.

During his many years of community service he was appointed to the Civil Rights Commission under President Lyndon B. Johnson where he served five years. He served four years on the Oklahoma Crime Commission, five years as Chaplain at the Okla. State Penitentiary and Human Rights Commission. Throughout his career, he received numerous awards and commendations. He retired as Labor Inspector from the Oklahoma State Labor Commission in 1982. Although retired from an 8-5 job, he never gave up his desire for active public service. He continued to Pastor the Jerusalem Baptist Church in McAlester, Ok. until his health failed him.
Rev. Watts was a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in 1965 participated with Dr. King in the march for freedom, justice, and equality in Selma, Alabama.

As a civil rights leader, Reverend Watts had his share of trouble with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan marched around his house and burned a cross on his lawn. The Klan burned one of his churches down and tried to burn another one a few years later. Wade had taken the Klan on in court and won by getting an injunction against the Klan that stopped them from burning a 45 foot cross on the outskirts of McAlester. Wade was surrounded by the Klan in a roadside diner where he was told by the Imperial Wizard at that time “whatever you do to the chicken on your plate, the Klan will do to you.’

Wade looked at the KKK members standing about him wearing their signature K.K.K. t-shirts and calmly picked up the chicken and kissed it! Needless to say, the men did not keep their promise. Even members of the KKK broke out in laughter over Wade’s response to their threats. On another occasion, he went into a cafe in Ada, Oklahoma with his friend, Oklahoma State Senator Gene Stipe, where he was stopped at the door by the waitress. She proceeded to tell them they did not serve Negroes there! Wade told the woman, “Ma’am, I don’t eat Negroes anyway, just give me some ham and some eggs!”

Wade told Senator Stipe that he had one wish…..to meet face to face with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan. He got his wish in the form of a nationwide radio debate with the Imperial Wizard. It was the meeting that ultimately, and over some time, would change the heart of Johnny Lee Clary, Imperial Wizard of the KKK. Wade and Johnny became best friends and Johnny is even Godfather of Wade’s daughter, Tia.

Rev. Wade Watts passed away, Dec. 13th, 1998. The night he passed away, two of his daughters heard him talking as he laid in bed. They heard Wade say “Thank You, Sir!” They asked him, ” Dad, who are you talking to?”, since they were the only ones in the room with him. Wade replied, ” I am talking to Jesus. He said He is coming to take me home.” The nurse came into the room, and asked Wade what he would like for breakfast in the morning. Wade replied, “It don’t matter, hon. I’m not going to be here for breakfast because Jesus told me He is coming for me.” That night, Wade died in his sleep.

Rev. Watts was like a father to me. I am grateful for all the years I had with him, and for all the wisdom and knowledge he passed on to me. He told me that he was passing me his mantle. I do not feel worthy to take it up; however, if he thought that much of me to invest all those years of time and wisdom into me, then I owe it to the memory of him to fight racism and continue his works. Wade and I always called one another “Old Partner”. I will miss him for the rest of my life, and will never forget him.
–Johnny Lee Clary
From www.johnnyleeclary.com, the website of former KKK Imperial Wizard and present evangelist Reverend Johnny Lee Clary.

He who is greatest among you shall be your servant

I’ve read and listened to many of the great sermons and speeches given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and am amazed and touched each time I do. Everyone knows about the “I have a dream” speech but one that I think is just as important is “The Drum Major Instinct.”

If you never take the time to read any of Dr. King’s speeches or sermons I do encourage you to read the following excerpt of “The Drum Major Instinct.” I encourage you to read the excerpt below several times and record it in your memory bank. If you want to be great, if you want to leave a legacy that lives on beyond you days on earth, then these words are your blueprint.

If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.
And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

Dr. King left a legacy that keeps on giving and will continue to do so for as long as mankind exists. He inspired men and women, regardless of color, to greatness. He encouraged mankind to serve others and to stand up, in a non-violent way, for what is right