Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who followed him in peaceful protest of unfair laws against African Americans were able to effect great change in American legislation. Their faith in God sustained them and strengthened them for the long marches, the beatings and jail sentences. Even young children that participated in marches were jailed with the adults.
In his quest for change, Dr. King was very purposeful and strategic in his timing, effective use of news opportunities, and relationships with lawmakers – and he used the message of the gospel to change the way African Americans saw themselves and what they were entitled to as American citizens. He taught them that every person born on this earth has the right to freedom from oppression – and that only love, not hate could win the fight for that freedom.
The critically acclaimed movie, Selma, focuses on the events surrounding the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and reveals some of the sacrifices made by people – both white and black, to bring about change. State Delegate Michael Futrell, D-2nd. hosted a screening of the movie and invited Bishop Dukes to be one of a panel of speakers for a post-movie discussion. The panelists’ comments covered the actual Selma movie, present-day racism, police brutality and the best way to respond to the recent deaths (at the hands of police officers) of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice.
Bishop Dukes shared his insight about the appropriate response to the police-involved shooting deaths, referencing the fact that “we have to take another look at the policies and undergirding principles” that are guiding our law enforcement’s actions.
As far as the citizens’ response to these tragic events, Bishop Dukes shared that, “We cannot react in anger. Ephesians tells us to be angry and sin not. We cannot loot our own stores and destroy our own neighborhoods. As I graduated in the 1980s, the economic portion of the city [D.C.’s H Street corridor] had many stores that were still burned out, still unclaimed and still not fixed from the 1968 riots after Dr. Martin Luther King had passed away. We need to put things in place where we can get a seat at the table in terms of making decisions, examining policies and understanding the environment…”
The Selma screening was a meaningful event that brought together people of many ethnicities and whose ages span several generations. Did you see the movie, Selma? How did it impact you?