Lift Every Voice…. Embodying the Vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty**
On this historic Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2021, the U.S is on the cusp of inaugurating the first Black woman, Kamala Harris, as Vice President of the United States. Listening to the voices of Black women and centering their experiences and wisdom is a hard won legacy of Civil Rights activists like Prathia Hall, Diane Nash, and Rosa Parks. These women and many whose names you do not know led the changes of the 1960s, 70s and beyond.
Today we lift the voices of three women who embody the legacies of MLK and the many women of the Civil Rights era through dynamic ministry, teaching, activism, and deep care for their communities. You will find these women leading in Chicago, Nashville, and beyond, where they challenge injustices, attend to communities that are unfairly marginalized, tell the stories, preach the gospel… And by their lives inspire me — and you, if you will pay careful attention — to find our own callings and paths to join or continue the work of justice.
Do you need inspiration today? Read on and listen in to the words and lives of Alisha Smith Haddock, Stephanie Crumpton and Judy Cummings. It will be time well-spent.
Rev. Alisha Smith Haddock:
Rev. Alisha Smith Haddock is a drum major and multi-vocational minister living out her call to work for justice in Nashville. She ministers through her church as associate pastor of Christian Journey Fellowship Church. And she is also fulfilling big dreams by serving the community in her role as Community-Based Services Director at the McGruder Center in North Nashville.
The McGruder Center is a hub of activity, community services and the arts. For example the center houses hospitality industry training, after-school tutoring, and tornado relief following the March 3, 2020 tornado that ripped through Nashville. The clean up and repairs continue in North and East Nashville and other parts of Tennessee to the present. McGruder is also a gathering place for important city-wide conversations. Learn more from Rev. Haddock in our conversation:
One of the important conversations at McGruder in the last two years is part of an ongoing response to a 2018 Brookings Institute report about incarceration and work. The Brookings report focuses on young people in the US. And the study identifies the rates of imprisonment for ZIP Codes in the United States.
Where is the ZIP with the with the most incarcerations per capita? It is right here in Nashville, Tennessee. The ZIP Code is 37208, home to North Nashville and the McGruder Center. Most of the people living in 37208 identify as African-American. And 14% of men and women combined, living in North Nashville, and born between 1980 and 1986, have been imprisoned.
If we want the dream and legacy of MLK to mean something, we need to find ways to activate our own part in the fight for justice.
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Crumpton:
Engaging the Legacies of Elders
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Crumpton helps us identify and focus on a host of important questions for living in the legacy of MLK. Top of the list: What is it to be in the fight for justice? What are you here to do?
Dr. Stephanie Crumpton asks questions we all need to be asking right now:
What is it to be in the fight for justice?
What are YOU here to do? #3MMM #M4BL @McCormickSem @ecampbellreed https://t.co/67EKED8kEH pic.twitter.com/Jh1VbTA93M
— Three Minute Ministry Mentor (@3MinuteMin) June 29, 2020
Dr. Crumpton is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary. She shared her wisdom with us about a wide range of topics last summer. Today we want to lift up her insights about how a new generation of activists finds ways to engage and embody a legacy and also do the work of justice-making for the twenty-first century.
There is a tension that exists for contemporary activists and organizers on how to deal rightly with the legacy they have been handed from ancestors and elders in the ongoing work of radical Black liberation and freedom.
~Dr. Stephanie Crumpton
Every movement, when it lasts beyond the first generation, must renew itself. A part of that work is clarifying the urgent needs of the day. An equally important part of that work is what Dr. Stephanie Crumpton calls “dealing rightly with the legacy” of those have gone before.
She says, to do this work activists taking on the mantle of leadership should ask at least these questions of the received legacy:
- What has been life-giving? And what can continue to be life-giving?
- What needs to be better understood? So that compassion, and not just angst or anger, are available for blessing the decisions that our ancestors and elders made under duress.
- What strategies, made under duress, are no longer life permitting?
- What narratives are incomplete, because they are shrouded in death?
Watch my conversation with Dr. Crumpton. In it, she shares her wisdom and care for activists in our time who are navigating the questions of how to relate to the legacy and elders of the Civil Rights movement. It is a perfect topic for this day.
Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings:
From Allies to Co-Conspirators
Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings retired in December 2020 after 10 years as pastor in North Nashville. Before that she spent decades ministering as a nurse and then several years as executive pastor. She may be retired, but I feel no doubt, she will continue to inspire with her words and leadership for the foreseeable future. She asks the simple yet profound question: Are you willing to really live out the commandment to love God, love neighbor, and love self?
This is a question we must ask if as followers of Jesus we are going to confront racism, sexism, homophobia, and Christian Nationalism. It’s not enough, says Dr. Cummings, to NOT be overtly racist. We can’t just say it “performatively,” as she points out. We need to join the work of loving God and neighbor and self by becoming anti-racist.
— Three Minute Ministry Mentor (@3MinuteMin) January 18, 2021
Take a deeper listen to the wise words of Dr. Judy Cummings about becoming antiracist. That is our work if we want to see lasting change. Let’s lift hands and voices to do the work that needs doing.
How will you love God and your neighbors, and yourself, by engaging and embodying the legacy of MLK? Will you join your voice voice of millions before you and with you on this day? Can we become the very message of love that the world needs so desperately in this moment?
MLK Weekend Sermon by Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen, pastor of St. Lydia’s Dinner Church, and co-director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project. Tomorrow Chris will be our featured guest on Episode 94 of 3MMM.
“Christian Scharen – Epiphany 2 January 17-18 2021 sermon”