This morning we will enter into a new age in our nation’s history. While many of us stand in fear because of the promises and threats made these past few months, let us remember that we are first and foremost a people of faith. We are called to continue our work for justice, to stand with our marginalized brothers and sisters, to resist all forms of hate, oppression, and injustice no matter how legitimized or normalized, and to build the Kingdom no matter how dark, or gloomy, or hopeless a situation may be.
And so today, I offer Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech from March 31, 1968, a few days before he was assassinated.
Dr. King promises us that we shall overcome. In these dark times, when many of our brothers and sisters will face violence because of the color of their skin or because they call God by a different name, we shall overcome. When refugees will be turned away because those in power do not want to share the excess wealth of our country, we shall overcome. When immigrant families will be torn apart and parents or children deported, we shall overcome. When the poor will be denied healthcare because of a preexisting condition or when our LGBT brothers and sisters will be discriminated against because of who they love, we shall overcome.
We are a people of hope, and of peace, and of justice and we will always overcome.
“We shall overcome – deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome. I’ve joined hands so often with students and others behind jail bars singing it, We shall overcome.
Sometimes we’ve had tears in our eyes when we joined together to sing it, but we still decided to sing it, We shall overcome. Oh, before this victory’s won, some will have to get thrown in jail some more, but we shall overcome.
Don’t worry about us. Before the victory’s won, some of us will lose jobs, but we shall overcome.
Before the victory’s won, even some will have to face physical death. But if physical
death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent
psychological death, then nothing shall be more redemptive.
We shall overcome.
Before the victory’s won, some will be misunderstood and called bad names, dismissed as rabble-rousers and agitators, but we shall overcome.
We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right, ‘No lie can live forever.’
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right: ‘Truth crushed to earth will rise again.’
We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right: ‘Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future and behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadows keeping watch above his own.’
We shall overcome because the Bible is right, ‘You shall reap what you sow.’
We shall overcome.
Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome.
And with this faith we will go out and adjourn the counsels of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism and we will be able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. And this will be a great America! We will be the participants in making it so.
And so as I leave you this evening I say, walk together children! Don’t you get weary! There’s a great camp meeting in the Promised Land!”