"Unearned suffering is redemptive." - Martin Luther King Jr.
On August 28, 1963, thousands of peaceful protestors gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to proclaim their struggles for freedom, equality, and justice remained unrealized. Segregation ruled the day. Voting rights and equal access to almost all areas of society were denied to many citizens. Police brutality, especially in the south, was rampant. The most basic freedoms that we take for granted were denied because of skin color.
In his speech, Dr. King called for citizenship rights where justice for all would emerge. He urged that we not drink from the cup of hatred and bitterness to satisfy the thirst for freedom. We must not resort to violence but meet physical force with soul force. We cannot walk alone; we must walk together to achieve a just society for all.
Jack Shockley embraced these values early and often throughout his life. In fourth grade at Christ the King school, he chose Martin Luther King Jr. as the figure to represent in their living historical museum. He dressed in a blue suit and held a Bible. When visitors of the museum (mostly parents and other students) pressed a button on his lapel, he would introduce himself as Dr. King and recite part of his “I Have a Dream“ speech.
Jack was always sensitive to the failings of our society to reach freedom and equality for everyone, especially the poor, discarded, and overlooked among us.
Violence, hatred, and pent-up anger ended Jack’s life too soon. Jack would want every birthday of Dr. King to be an opportunity to call forward the message of non-violence to achieve freedom, equality, and justice for all. As Dr. King said, we cannot walk alone. We must walk together in this journey.
"When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last."
This journey continues one step, one life at a time until Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is achieved. Let us join together with Dr. King and Jack Shockley to sing from the mountaintop, “Let freedom ring! Let freedom ring!"
To read the 'I Have a Dream' speech in its entirety, click here.