Friday, August 28, 2009

Remembering Martin

I think few speeches stand out more than Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. I can only imagine the reaction at the time, but it sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.


  1. While wishing to take nothing away from the text of his speech, which is brilliant, King might have been able to engage an audience just by reading the phone book. His voice had such incredible resonance and clarity.

  2. I was going to respond that his is the voice of the Black Church, but checked myself because I've only ever attended one black church -- Glide Memorial in San Francisco. And this was not your usual black church even in the late 1960s (and in a MAD aside, this is where I once held hands with Leonard Bernstein):

    "In 1963, winds of change were blowing mightily through San Francisco. Nowhere were these forces of transformation more visible than at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church. That year, a young African-American minister named Cecil Williams came to Glide determined to bring life back into the dying congregation. Cecil changed both policies and practices of the conservative church, helping to create the Council on Religion and Homosexuality in 1964. In 1967, Cecil ordered the cross removed from the sanctuary, exhoring the congregation instead to celebrate life and living.

    "We must all be the cross," he explained. As the conservative members of the original congregation left, they were replaced by San Francisco's diverse communities of hippies, addicts, gays, the poor, and the marginalized. By 1968, the energetic, jazz-filled Celebrations were packed with people from all classes, hues, and lifestyles. That year, San Francisco State University erupted in protests over demands for ethnic studies and affirmative action. Cecil and the Glide community helped lead the demonstrations; the church became a home for political, as well as spiritual, change. Glide offered a safe space to groups ranging from the Hookers Convention to the American Indian Movement and the Black Panthers. In the midst of their political work, Glide never forgot the basic needs of the community. The meals program was launched in the 1960s, serving one free dinner a week to all comers. As a decade of clamoring change came to a close, Glide further added to the joyful noise: The world-renowned Glide Ensemble choir held its first rehearsals in 1969. And Janice Mirikitani, a noted poet and dancer, had also just been appointed Coordinator for Glide's programs. The church would never be the same again."

  3. Does anyone or Rick know what happened to Rick's blog?When I click on the link I get a does not exist and a google search for WordsWordsWords brings up a bunch of links but I don't see his.

  4. I emailed him earlier about it -- I hope he hasn't taken it down. I really enjoyed discussing books with him and you and the others there. An oasis of sorts.

  5. I retired the blog. But I had fun while it lasted. And I appreciate everyone who visited and commented.

  6. "and in a MAD aside, this is where I once held hands with Leonard Bernstein"

    Dunno what is signified by "MAD" but knowing the Glide celebrations, I know well how that could have been--which isn't to say I wouldn't love to read the details.

    Glide's work is my idea of Christianity--and the only church as church (not as location for wedding, etc.) I've attended since moving to SF. I'm happy to say it's still going strong, as is the Rev. Cecil, most recently seen here:

    In addition to its celebrations, the org. has opened a number of social service agencies--rehab & transition from prison or homelessness, shelters for abused women/children--in buildings built by the foundation in SF's Tenderloin.

    When I read about much that passes for Christianity, it's always good to keep Glide in mind...

  7. Amen to that.

    And yes, being young and the only person in the church who probably didn't know who Leonard Bernstein was at the time, I was more than willing to hold his hand during the service. And what a service.

    Celebrating life, good deeds, and social justice. Nice to know that work endures.