It’s 2020 y’all. And January 19th, Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday, is rapidly approaching so I thought I would get this out while you ministers are still thinking about what you will say on that day.
First and foremost, white ministers…..DO. NOT. PREACH. KING. It’s really that simple.
Now that I’ve told you what not to do, here’s some suggestions as to what you can preach about on that day.
Before doing anything else though, your first assignment is to read W.E.B. Du Bois. You have heard of him, right? I ask because I’ve heard a lot of you say things that if you had read him at any point in your life you wouldn’t be saying. anyway….your assignment is to read the last chapter of Black Reconstruction in America, “The Propaganda of History.”
2020 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower. If you come from a religious tradition that, in some way, traces its history in this event, I recommend that you use the Malcolm X quote “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us…” and talk about settler colonialism and how that has played out in theology and church organization.
For those of you who are biblical studies people, 2019 was the 30th anniversary of the publication of Dr. Cain Hope Felder’s Troubling Biblical Waters, so you could use that as a starting point into how biblical interpretation amongst marginalized communities differs from that of white biblicists. (I am, of course, assuming that you know who Dr. Felder was. That may be a bad assumption.)
2020 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Dr. James Cone’s A Black Theology of Liberation, so you could talk about liberation theology and marginalized communities. (again…I’m making assumptions about what you’ve read in seminary and post-seminary. This may be a bad assumption.)
On a totally different track…..2020 is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Negro Leagues, so you could talk about race in sports or how baseball has gone backwards when it comes to the numbers of Black players/managers/front office staff and fans.
There are so many options to choose from. So, white minister friends, do everyone a favor…..DO. NOT. PREACH. KING.