Is There Room For Those Who Are More Malcolm Than Martin?

So yesterday was my day to preach. And this is how I started my sermon:

I have to being today with two confessions. First confession…there is one Sunday in the UU liturgical year that I try my hardest to NOT be in a UU church. As I am telling you this today, it doesn’t take a genius to guess that it’s Martin Luther King Sunday. Part of this is because I am much more of a Malcolm X, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us” type of girl. The other part is because I have nightmares. That’s right, I said I have nightmares. Nightmares that consist of me listening to Unitarian Universalists sing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” Badly.

Now I don’t want to get into the second part of the first confession, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the first part of the confession.

Is there a place in UUism for those who are more attracted to the rhetoric of Malcolm X than that of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

How much of the liberal religious attraction to MLK has to do with the fact you can focus on the second part of the I Have A Dream Speech and totally ignore the 3 pages single spaced typed text before he even utters the words “I have a dream?”

How much of the attraction is that MLK can be put into a nice little box and pulled out on days like yesterday, when you want to show how open and welcoming you are?

How much of the attraction to MLK is so that you can downplay and ignore those who were in your own movement like Ethelred Brown or the Jordans ( Joseph and Joseph Fletcher)?

Those are the questions that have been coming to my mind since yesterday. Maybe I’ll write more about them later.

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6 thoughts on “Is There Room For Those Who Are More Malcolm Than Martin?

  1. I have to admit that I share the second half the confession. And a few elements of the first. I suppose it’s an issue of authenticity. Are we paying lip service to it as liberals who like the idea or actually living it? Particularly as UUism purports to be a religion tolerant of everyone, yet in my experience our pews tend to be filled with the most privileged, those who may not like it but are occupying the oppressive classes. It just doesn’t jive.

  2. How much of the attraction to MLK is so that you can downplay and ignore those who were in your own movement like Ethelred Brown or the Jordans ( Joseph and Joseph Fletcher)?

    That’s a good question, but it might give more credit than is due. I’m not sure most UUs know those folks exist.

  3. I encourage you to write and live in those questions, Kim. The two denominations I am in contact with (who knows for how long) are of the MLK camp. They don’t like to utter the name ‘Malcom X’ as though it is the name of the one in which we do not speak, from the Harry Potter series. It would be no shock to most who know me, I am of the Malcom X camp, as well. There are many who are not in either camp who think other people or events should be celebrated instead.

    These are the hard questions no one likes to ask but we must. We must remember all of the history, not simply one piece seen through one lens. This is one of the tall orders diversity and tolerance aim to fill, in my opinion. It seems to be an issue for UU’s, COB’s, and other denominations of the like.

    When I think about Malcom X and MLK, I think of how people react when issues occur at a distance, such as another country, or state verses how people react when issues break out in their own towns, neighborhoods, and home. I find they are drastically different, no shock there. The shock (but still really no shock) comes when those who profess non-violence in first situation act out violence in the second. When will people begin to live what they believe or better yet, believe what they live?

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