WASHINGTON - On the morning of March 31, 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. took to the pulpit at the National Cathedral. The sermon he delivered was his last. Just days later, he was assassinated.
More than 45 years later, King's voice echoed once again in the National Cathedral during a special forum led by Rev. Gary Hall with guest speaker Rev. Michael McBride, national director of Lifelines to Healing at PICO National Network.
In his final sermon, Dr. King spoke of equality and nonviolence. A seven minute excerpt was played for Sunday's National Cathedral audience before the forum began.
"We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools … I can see nothing more urgent than for America to work passionately and unrelentingly to get rid of the disease of racism … We are challenged to eradicate the last vestiges of racial injustice from our nation," Dr. King preached.
Rev. McBride and Rev. Hall discussed the progress that has been made on equal rights and what role the church plays in social justice.
"It's very true that his dream has not yet been fulfilled regarding jobs or freedom. Despite major recent victories, true freedom for many Americans -- true equality in the eyes of the law -- has not steadily advanced," Rev. Hall said.
"Our country has been deeply divided over the death of Trayvon Martin. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has dismantled an essential provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act."
Rev. McBride, reflecting on Dr. King's words, says racial inequality still exists, but the church can be an active force in bringing understanding.
"We're children of God. We're human. We have value. We're all Americans. We are all tied together," he said. "I believe this would be the message of Dr. King in this moment."
Rev. McBride says King's campaign to end racial injustice is not finished.
"The level of trauma related to gun violence requires a national response … We must own this and use the values of our faith, our shared humanity, dignity, to really help us to jump in with both feet and figure out how to solve these problems together."
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