As the heckler’s rock struck Dr. King in the head, he fell to one knee. Staring at the ground, the crowd waited. What would their leader do? Give in to fear? Or rise up and continue?
He stood tall and continued to lead the march. It was August 5, 1966 and Martin was in an all-white neighborhood of Chicago protesting housing discrimination.
Now, when he was struck he could have retaliated with anger. He could have flung that stone right back. But Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace. Of God. And he had a wisdom so often lacking today.
We teach by example.
Just a few days later he withstood blistering summer heat to speak at a rally in the city’s football stadium. There in Soldier Field he spoke of how tired African-Americans were often living in rat-infested slums, and being lynched physically in Mississippi, and spiritually and economically in the North.
No hatred in his words. No vitriol. No dividing lines.
But he did draw lines in the sand. On one side was the dream of equality and justice. The other side racism, malevolence, and suffering.
We have that power today. We can reach out hands to those who are different from ourselves in friendship or use them to fling rocks at the innocent and righteous.
I, for one, choose friendship.
Who is with me?
(Source: Time Magazine “The Suprising Story Behind This Shocking Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Under Attack.”)