A march for social and economic justice that led to the now famous "I Have a Dream" speech. With so many changes since 1963, one must recognize that the hope, the dream of Dr. King has become reality for Black Americans. A reality made possible through actions based on the biblical teachings of Jesus Christ.
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood...I have a dream 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..."
When you listen to Dr. King's famous "I have a dream" speech, echoes of the prophet Isaiah ring out: "I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low ... and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together (Isaiah 40:4-5)"
Dr. King believed his struggle to achieve social and economic justice for Black Americans was his ministry to glorify God. "We must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all our actions."
Despite the bombing of his house, Dr. King forbade those guarding his home from carrying guns; instead, he stood up as a leader and told his followers, "Keep moving ... with the faith that what we are doing is right, and with the even greater faith that God is with us in the struggle."
It can sometimes be very difficult to be a leader, having to contend with the expectations of those looking to them for strength, courage and wisdom, especially in times of crisis.
What can Christian CEO's and business leaders learn from Dr. Martin Luther King's leadership? Dr. King clearly understood what it meant to Count the Cost. He knew his ministry could cost him his freedom, even his life. Professing to be a disciple of Christ is one thing but a total commitment of body and soul to God's will is a cost some Christians fear. Christian CEO's must understand that true success based on biblical principles requires them to bear their own cross. "He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:38).
Even for Dr. King, when things were at its worst, it was Scripture and the Holy Spirit that led him through the darkness of hate and bigotry. "...even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander (Peter 3:13-16)."
On April 3, 1968, Dr. King was in Memphis to help with a sanitation strike. In what prophetically was to be his last speech, Dr. King drew from the biblical story of Moses: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life ... 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." The next day, James Earl Ray shot and killed Dr. King as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
Fifty-years later, America is now a country where it's possible for African-Americans to be all they can be, even President of the United States. A fulfillment of Dr. King's dream made reality through Christ.