50 Years Later: Honoring the martyrdom and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

March 26, 2018
In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

By Angelique Walker-Smith

Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, gun shots rang out in Memphis, Tennessee, and were heard around the world.

The gunfire resulted in the violent death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as he was standing on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel. As Rachel cried out in Jeremiah 31:15, refusing to be comforted in her loss, so too people around the world refused to be comforted in their mourning for King. Violent riots that had started in the United States prior to King’s death only increased after his passing.

The night before his assassination, King gave a speech supporting striking African-American Memphis sanitation workers at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. His speech, widely-known today as the “mountaintop speech,” continues to inspire.

King said: “We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop … 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.”

King’s dream of the promised land was informed by his belief that ending hunger and poverty was possible. Upon his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he said: “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”

King’s legacy of a beloved community embodies God’s gifts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness found in the Declaration of Independence. The idea of the beloved community inspires us in our work to end hunger and poverty. Global Development Goals (the Millennium Development Goals from 2000 to 2015 and the Sustainable Development Goals from 2015-2030) are internationally agreed upon goals for addressing poverty and improving the lives of people living in the margins.

They help frame a way forward even as we advocate for a federal budget that ensures support for those who need empowerment programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to feed their families and to move themselves out of poverty.

Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter call us to renewed seasons of life and hope. Like King who refused to give up on this pronouncement through action, we too are invited to imagine a new world without hunger and poverty and to engage in actions to get there.

King’s impenetrable legacy is the heart of Bread for the World’s, “In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement.” The devotional commemorates King’s martyrdom and the Poor People’s Campaign. The devotionals were written by national and international church leaders.

The April devotionals were written by leaders of King’s national church body, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.  May they inspire your work to end hunger and poverty and also finally realize King’s dream of a “beloved community.”

Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan-African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World.

King’s dream of the promised land was informed by his belief that ending hunger and poverty was possible. 

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Feed the Future

    Feed the Future, launched in 2010, grew out of the U.S. response, led by President George W. Bush, to the 2007-2008 global food price crisis. Prices of basic foods doubled or tripled in some countries and pushed an additional 150 million people into hunger and malnutrition.

  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Hunger and Poverty in the African-American Community

    While hunger declined from 2017 for the general U.S. population, African Americans experienced a one percent increase, an increase of 153,000 African American households.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.

    ...

  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

Field

Changing Climate, Changing Farmers

February 7, 2017

Insight

The Jobs Challenge

April 10, 2018

From the Blog