The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., pastor and mentor to Sen. Barack Obama, has been in the news much of late. Who has not heard the tape of his cursing America or his claiming that the U.S. invented AIDS as a way to kill black people?
Do you remember when there was a black minister with a different message?
Someone who said, "Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness." Someone who said, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." Someone who said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."
These are the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 40 years ago today. If Sen. Obama is looking for inspiration, he would be much better off listening to King's speeches on tape than to Wright's sermons.
On April 3, 1968 - the night before he was killed - King finished his speech with these prophetic words. "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"
This last week, our 66th Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, finished her tour of the Middle East. Rice is the second black person to serve as the Secretary of State. She follows General Collin Powell who was and remains extremely popular and probably could be elected president from either party.
This last week the Supreme Court was in session. Justice Clarence Thomas from Savannah was present among the nine, just like he has been since 1991. Thomas is the second black person to serve on the Supreme Court. Prior to him, Justice Thurgood Marshall served 24 years on the high court.
And this last week, Obama spoke out against John McCain's economic policies. Obama, the Democratic frontrunner for the presidential nomination, has decided to ignore his competition for the party nomination and go ahead and begin the debate with McCain.
Yes, America is not perfect. But it is a much better place for black people today than it was in 1968.
The vision of the promised land that King saw from the mountaintop, is beginning to come true.
On this anniversary of his death, let's remember the dream of Georgia's most famous preacher. "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."
John Donaldson is the pastor at Newborn & Mansfield UMC. Send e-mail to