Never will I forget Martin Luther King Sr. saying on a national television network from Ebenezer Baptist Church, “I love you, white man.” It was powerful, profoundly poignant and memorable.
When the father of Martin Luther King Jr. came to Newberry, I had the opportunity to thank him for the heritage that he and his son had left for America.
Martin Luther King Jr. recognized his father’s influence in his own life and appreciated the value of being given the name Martin Luther, the name of the great German Protestant reformer who changed the history of the Western world by his studied conviction that a person is saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not of any works he or she might do.
Having been blessed with an extensive career teaching at predominantly black institutions of higher education, I can never forget the influence of both of these giants of faith — King and Luther. In fact, on a trip to Germany in 1989, I sang the great civil rights hymn, “We Shall Overcome,” in my broken German with relatives: “Wir kann ubemomen.” And when the Berlin Wall came down that year, the Lutherans kept the themes of both Joshua and “We Shall Overcome” in mind as they silently marched. I will never forget the moment.