I Disappointed Martin Luther King

How I’m learning to integrate faith and justice
I Disappointed Martin Luther King
Image: DICK DEMARSICO / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

I don’t know if you saw me, but I was in Selma. I was nothing more than an extra in the background of a single scene—a girl with brown hair, neatly pinned back in curls, running around in a fitted dress with matching cap, two friends giggling at my side. The shot isn’t very long—just a slow, easy pan—but I’m there.

You can see David Oyelowo, who plays the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leading the group of thousands of people across a bridge on the first leg of his march to Montgomery. While the rows and rows of protesters pass me, I stand with my friends, eyes big as I watch this spectacle unfold. Even from my face you can tell I’m conflicted. My eyes are asking, What are you doing? But my mind is wondering, What does it matter?

So my friends and I clutch our purses a little tighter as we take another lingering look, and then we walk in the other direction. Away from the protesters. Away from the march. Away from change. Away from justice.

More than Tears

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. . . who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice. . . . Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

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Joy Beth Smith

Joy Beth Smith is the assistant editor for Today's Christian Woman. You can follow her on Twitter at @JBsTwoCents or Instagram at @jbstwocents or on her website JoyBethSmith.com.

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May 25

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