At a time when corporations, government agencies, and especially educational institutions are fixated on viewing things through the race-obsessed lenses of Critical Race Theory, nothing cuts through the odd fixations of our age more than Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of people being judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. One wonders what he would think of today’s events.
Loudoun County, Virginia–ranked the richest county in America by median income–has been publicly roiled by revelations that the school district has planned to spend over six million dollars this year on “Antiracist” curriculum and personnel. In one viral video from the district, a teacher criticizes a student shown a picture of a white girl and a black girl smiling. When the student says he sees “two people chillin’,” the teacher gets angry and demands the student comment on the racial make-up. In nearby Fairfax County, the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School denied that Critical Race Theory had been taught until a group called Parents Defending Education started using Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to get internal documents showing that she had been at the center of the effort to teach exactly those theories. Perhaps craziest of all, last month the state of California’s Board of Education unanimously approved a 900-page ethnic studies curriculum that includes chants to Aztec gods designed to supplant white culture and with it, by extension, the Christian God.
Martin Luther King doesn’t make it into the California curriculum. Given the Biden Education Department’s new proposed rules, schools across the country are looking at a lot more pressure to adopt this ideology.
Yet what we really need in America to recover King’s dream is his understanding of what binds people together: being made in the image of the one God. It is here that we could benefit a lot more from MLK and a lot less from Ibram X. Kendi and Quetzalcoatl.
Some conservatives might be suspicious of looking to King. His last years were characterized by pessimism about the state of America and a worry that the American founding was indeed based on inequality. Both of these led him into some radical positions and company at the end of his life. His personal life was also less than exemplary. But it is nevertheless true that King’s public witness and public behavior are something to admire. He was a man for his moment who showed great courage under pressure. And the thought that motivated that public witness is even more important.
What was King’s vision based on? That vision of Genesis in which humankind is made specifically in God’s image. King himself wrote, “Deeply woven into the fiber of our religious tradition is the conviction that men are made in the image of God and they are souls of infinite metaphysical value.” If they are all of the infinite value, then they are equal. As King wrote, “There is no graded scale of essential worth; there is no divine right of one race which differs from the divine right of another. Every human being has etched in his personality the indelible stamp of the Creator.” And because they are equal, this is the guarantee that their basic rights should be safeguarded, each and every one.
This was the vision of the American founders, one that he often pointed to. In his 1965 sermon “The American Dream,” he looked back at his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and described that dream this way: that “Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God.” This biblical understanding was also American, for “the founding fathers were really influenced by the Bible.” That is why he asserts that the dream “started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream.”
The reason it was so important for America to be true to this dream, he said, was “[b]ecause God somehow called America to do a special job for mankind and the world. (Yes, sir, Make it plain) Never before in the history of the world have so many racial groups and so many national backgrounds assembled together in one nation.” God had given America many opportunities to live out this dream, from natural resources and space to the “great creed” put in the “minds of our forefathers: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (Yes, sir) are created equal.’”
For King, “that profound moral fact” of the common image of God did not mean in the minds of the forefathers any individualistic pursuit of happiness. It meant a unity between all races and every individual, universal truth to be lived out in America. As King scholar Richard Willis put it, “King derived his sense of human worth and value from his understanding of what it meant to be a member of a human family joined by a common origin and destiny.”
Not only were people of all races equal, so too were those of all classes. For King, knowledge of that unity was to motivate a sense of solidarity between haves and have-nots. He wrote that the “rich and poor are tied together. They both entered the same mysterious gateway of human birth, into the same adventure of mortal life.”
King’s vision was realistic. He affirmed that the image of God was present in part in our reason, which “when sincerely and honestly used, is one of the supreme roads that leads man into the presence of God.” He also affirmed that sin disfigured that image even if it did not erase it. And he struggled with his own sins and the sins of others. Though he came close to hating “the White man,” he recounted his parents’ command “that it was my duty as a Christian to love him.”
This love of those who hate us is much better than what we face today. In the name of “Antiracist” theory being foisted on students in the name of justice, Virginia just announced that they will not be teaching any accelerated math classes before 11th grade as part of their “equity” planning. Thus, because some students will not be able to take advantage of such education, no students, black, white, Asian, or anything else will be able to develop their talents to help those with whom they are tied together.
A culture-wide recovery of the recognition of the image of God in every person would lead us to see the essential equality of all people, but also the dignity and worth of each individual and the common good in nurturing this view of our fellow men and women. King’s Christian but universal vision is still what we need today. More than ever.
David P. Deavel is editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, co-director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, and visiting professor at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).
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We’re supposed to forget and ignore the progress made since
Eisenhower sent the national guard to desegregate the schools
So that the Dems can create a crisis
To divide and Balkanize the country along racial/ethnic lines.
For their own central planning power grabbing purposes
TOTALLY agree with what has been posted! What is happening is Reverse Racism Against Caucausen Christians. We have had No Unity in the United States since 2008! Critical Racism Theory is exactly that, A Theory! It’s being pushed on us by the MAIN STREAM MEDIA, those in Government, BLM.and ANTIFA. When Father God, Jesus Christ is brought back in to Families, Schools and Colleges we’ll have Unity. Racism is learned. We aren’t born with that concept. What happened to Dr. King’s teachings? They have been forgotten especially by the Millennials all the way to today’s generation!
I’m guessing that the people who are pushing this “racist” agenda, either have never heard the song that was taught in Sunday school or have chosen to ignore it. “Red and yellow, black or white we are all precious in His site”, etc. For a country such as ours that in the past have accepted people from all nations and backgrounds I would say that the U.S.A. is NOT a racist country! And yes, we need to turn back to God!
The end times predicted in the Bible are coming up exponentially. One prediction is Israel will be surrounded by enemies. Another, the Roman empire would once again exist. The EU? People would become lovers of self. We’re also told, now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. If you haven’t asked Christ to be your savior, do it now. There may not be time left.
Apparently, the teacher in this example is a liberal and a sound member of the KKK! Shouldn’t be allowed near kids let alone allowed to teach!