Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, has retired now but still writes a weekly column, Child Watch, for the CDF website. Her post of 1/12/24 is titled “Keep Moving.” It blends a speech from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a poem from Langston Hughes and a riff on the Children of Israel leaving Egypt. Read it here.
King was speaking at Founders’ Day in Spelman College’s Sisters Chapel during Edelman’s senior year of college. The young student was so impressed that she wrote down his conclusion in her daily journal: “We must keep moving. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.”
Wright says King’s words caused her to reflect on “what people do with life – how much some do and others how little.”
Moses had to deal with three types of people, she wrote. One group, realizing how hard it would be to travel to the Promised Land, just wanted to return to slavery in Egypt. A second group didn’t want to return to Egypt but couldn’t manage the discipline and sacrifice to go on to Canaan. And the third group opted to go on “in spite of the obstacles, in spite of the difficulty, in spite of the sacrifices that we will have to make.”
Dr. King focused on the middle group – the people standing still.
As Wright recalls his speech, “He said: ‘Whenever God speaks, he says go forward, saying in substance that you must never become bogged down in mountains and situations that will impede your progress. You must never become complacently adjusted to unobtained goals. …’”
Now, if you’ve stuck this far, hear the wisdom, the optimist and the faith in King’s words. And realize that January 15, 2024, is a national holiday, not because MLK was a Black man or a Black leader. He speaks to and for us all.
“Dr. King said: ‘I do not stand here as a detached spectator. As I say to you this afternoon, have faith in the future, I speak as one who lives every day amidst the threat of death. I speak as one who has had to stand often amidst the surging murmur of life’s restless sea, I speak as one who has been battered often by the jostling winds of adversity, but I have faith in the future.
“I have faith in the future because I have faith in God and I believe that there is a power, a creative force in this universe seeking at all times to bring down prodigious hilltops of evil and pull low gigantic mountains of injustice. If we will believe this and struggle along, we will be able to achieve it.’”
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.