My husband, Jerome, was 8-years-old when he was walking down a road in the middle of nowhere Mississippi. A group of white guys drove by him, hit their brakes and slowly backed up. He felt their menacing stares bore into him when they passed and the cold rush of air swept over him. It was a hot steamy summer and instinctively he started running.
The men got out of their truck and started chasing him down that lone country road. The thud of their steps behind him seemed a breath behind him and yet he ran. He ran and ran and ran until he came to his house. The men never reached him but instinctively he knew it was Klansmen.
The Klu Klux Klan terrorized children, men, women just because of the color of their skin. My kids can’t imagine a world where you could die just because of the color of your skin. But my husband grew up in the unrest of desegregation in the South.
My husband remembers as if it was yesterday the men who were kidnapped from their homes and lynched because of what they believed in. He remembers even boys his age being killed because of the color of their skin. Fear and terror ruled the South until one man took a stand for what was right.
Martin Luther King wasn’t a perfect man, but I’m amazed to this day, that he was in his early 30s when he led the civil rights movement. A fiery Baptist preacher, his words captured and moved a whole nation. My kids are clueless about the struggle and injustice that their father witnessed daily. I hope we never forget why we’re celebrating Martin Luther King Day.
Martin Luther King Day isn’t just a day to remember the greatness of a man, but a reminder to continue doing what is right. A reminder of why Martin Luther King, Jr. and millions of young men and women did to take a stand for justice. I don’t know the casualties of those who were killed – both black and white – during the Civil Rights era. But I know many paid with their own lives.
I’ve often wondered where are those voices of righteousness that can stir a whole nation to do what is just. A voice that speaks for the voiceless — those who have no power. A voice that would speak for a child ruled by fear and terror. A voice that speaks up for the women abandoned by their husbands. A voice that speaks up for the men who have been stripped of their dignity and ability to provide for their family.
I know someone who does speak up and my prayer is that many more would join him and his cause. Steve Gray, a pastor, author, and moviemaker speaks up for the victims of a system gone wrong. He is the voice for the voiceless, the powerless and those who have been robbed of what rightfully belongs to them – experiencing the presence of God.
We need more voices that will stop the fear and terror that constantly threaten our nation. Will you speak up for what is right? Will you be a voice for the voiceless and powerless?
Here’s a Periscope of my husband sharing his story of growing up during the heat of the civil rights movement. The broadcast won’t be available after January 18 at 7pm CT.