Manumission was the act of a slave owner freeing his slave. This typically happened by way of a statement in a slave owner’s will. In some cases, manumission took place when a slave purchased their own freedom or for their child or spouse. It would take years for the slave to scrape together the money to purchase a legal document of freedom. The Thirteenth Amendment officially ended the peculiar institution of slavery in the USA. However, a cold wall of distrust, hatred, and ignorance remained that kept African-Americans disenfranchised, in menial jobs, and at the mercy of the unjust laws and terror from Ku Klux Klan threats.
But it wasn’t until 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that African-Americans and other American citizens took to the streets in civil disobedience and demanded the final death of Jim Crow laws.
Ironically, truth and love killed Jim Crow! The most prominent vessel was none other than the 20th century prince of peace, Martin Luther King, Jr. His achievements were a culmination of a cacophony of voices crying out for freedom and justice during a span of hundreds of years. Hundreds of unknown heroes died in the fight for freedom and equality in the USA. Yet, the Dream Speech still rings in our ears today above all other voices.
Martin was actually born Michael Luther King, Jr. on January 15, 1929. His father, Michael King, Sr. changed his name and that of his son, to Martin Luther, in honor of the great sixteenth-century reformer. Young Martin attended a segregated public school in Georgia, graduating when he was just fifteen-years-old. In 1948, Martin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia. Both of his parents and grandfather graduated from the same college. King then attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where a predominately white senior class elected him as class president. King was awarded the Bachelor’s of Divinity in 1951. After winning a fellowship at Crozer, King enrolled in a master’s program at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, whom he later married.
Martin Luther King’s father and grandfather pastored the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. At the same church, Martin served as co-pastor from 1960 until his assassination.
There were likely hundreds of other Negro children who attended the same school, the same church, and walked the same streets, who never attained a fraction of the effectiveness and prominence as Michael King!
What was his secret?
….Grace, Giftedness, and Guidance!
The power of God’s grace is boundless, and full of mercy, wisdom, and integrity.
Martin Luther King, Jr., had a gift of preaching. The prophet of peace had a clear message, perfected under the discipline of education.
And King had role models inside his home, church, and later, college. When Martin was young, his father would encourage the church members to challenge the Jim Crow laws. Martin was fascinated at the eloquence of the Atlanta ministers, and this same love of words helped Martin score very highly on his college entrance exams. So high in fact, that his score allowed him to skip his senior year, and to enroll in Morehouse when just fifteen years old. At Morehouse, Martin was again struck by the eloquence of then college president, Dr. Benjamin D. Mays. Dr. Mays was also an ordained minister. All of these factors, coupled with his obedience to the call, created an Ambassador of Hope for ages to come.
Our modern slave owners are Drugs, Greed, Poverty, Despair, and Ignorance. They affect all races. Let us find the grace available in God’s Word, find our purpose in this world, and seek out mentors who have travelled in the direction we wish to go.
Let us keep the dream alive and walk in peace with all men, as much as possible.