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Martin Luther King Jr: living together

Statement from Bishop W. Shawn McKnight on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Nearly 60 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. visited St. Louis twice, in March 1964 and again that October, days before he received the Nobel Prize for Peace. During his sermon at the Episcopalian Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis in March 1964 – a church with its own complicated racial history – King delivered the memorable challenge: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

That challenge remains before us today. In some ways, our world is very different from 1964. Yet so much remains the same. We struggle to live the eternal truth that each human being should be treated with respect and be able to live a dignified life, regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, background, political viewpoint, whether they are still in the womb or nearing the end of their earthly life.

Dr. King’s warning that we might perish as fools echoes the words of the prophet Isaiah, who proclaimed, “For the fool speaks folly, his heart plans evil: Godless actions, perverse speech against the LORD, Letting the hungry go empty and the thirsty without drink” (Is 32:6). Our actions of mercy and charity not only remind us we are all children of God: we can become a stronger community through our words and deeds.

Today, as we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., may each of us find a way to more closely live together as sisters and brothers, whether that is responding in kindness to a social media post, taking the time to volunteer to raise the dignity of others, learning more about Martin Luther King Jr by reading his works, or finding ways to dialogue about racial injustice.

May God bless our efforts to build a more peaceful and just world!