Love, faith, commitment and sacrifice

On the third Monday of every January, schools, businesses, and various other establishments take a day off from their regularly scheduled programming to commemorate the life and work of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In his 39 years of life, King’s work led to the passing of legislation on fair housing, civil rights and had earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Hope College welcomed Xernona Clayton, a colleague and close friend of the King family. Clayton worked with King on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and traveled with Mrs. Coretta Scott King on her nationwide concert tours. Clayton was responsible for organizing the Doctors’ Committee for Implementation in 1966, resulting in the desegregation of all hospital facilities in Atlanta, Georgia. Clayton was also a regular figure on Atlanta’s local CBS affiliate, making her the south’s first Black person to have her own television show. In addition, Clayton has received a multitude of achievements, the list of which goes on and on, acting as a testimony to her life of service and dedication to racial equality. Clayton’s keynote presentation was focused on King’s character and how the love he preached is the same love he practiced. She said, “He [King] could never understand why we as a people and a nation could not learn to love each other.”

 

Dr. King believed that underneath the skin we are all the same. We all bleed the same color, and we are all created in the image of God. Racism and bigotry is something that has been manufactured by people, a result of living in a fallen world. We are all his beautiful children, but our exteriors make us wonder how to treat each other, making diversity and love seem like something that is more complex than they actually are. Love is not something exclusively given to people that are similar to us. Clayton pointed out that in Acts 10:34 God shows no favoritism, therefore neither should we. The Bible tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, regardless of whether or not they look like you. Clayton said that how you treat people is a spirit and that King loved everybody. Your heart makes a difference in how you act, and Kings heart for love and equality led him to treat people with dignity and respect. Before Clayton’s keynote presentation began, the chapel choir led a song titled Jehovah Sabaoth, which contains the lyric, “The God who governs angel armies has set encampments around me. Whom shall I fear?” King lived, fought and led fearlessly during a time in which there were many reasons for him to be afraid. He was arrested almost 30 times and faced violent opposition in his mission to bring justice and equality to people of color in America. Despite the pushback and the hatred spewed at him, King fought for what he believed in and for what was true; he knew he was being protected. Clayton’s challenge to us as she concluded her speech was to help one person. She said that even King knew we couldn’t solve every person’s problems in the world. Let one person in your house so that you can build a village. Pick one person who’s hurting and take them to lunch; help your neighbors and genuinely strive to understand their perspectives; love one more person and your kindness will catch on. We may not live out the track record King did, but at the end of our lives, we should be able to say that we loved everybody and mean it


Eli ('23) is a first year student from Noblesville, Indiana currently working as the Voices Editor for the Anchor. He is a psychology major and a member of the Promethean fraternity. In addition to working at the Anchor he is a writing assistant at the Klooster Center for Excellence in Writing as well as a tenor saxophonist with the Jazz Arts Collective. After his time at Hope he plans to further his education and become a therapist.


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