Get High On Life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2001

Harold Keller

New leadership needed for black Americans to fulfill King’s dream

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for; he isn’t fit to live.” This was Martin Luther King’s response to people who opposed his commitment to non-violence (including many blacks) as he led the fight to end the nation’s social injustice. Died, he did – for an unselfish cause – civil rights. In 1968 King was assassinated. This Monday, the nation has a holiday. The admirers of his fight for equal justice, as well as the racists, will all welcome a day off. Who was Martin Luther King? In my opinion, his public life was one of integrity and bravery. As I reflect on his life I am amazed by how much abuse he took and how he was able to function with all the threats he received. Regardless, he never backed down. Evidently, he had a cause for which to die. Was his life in vain? No. By the signing of the Civil Rights Act, his people finally became free Americans. Is his dream that little children will one day live in nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, a reality yet? No. We’ve made a little progress, but have a long way to go. Why have we made so little progress toward healing the wounds of segregation that exist even now? I think that we have to realize that freedom isn’t free. With it comes responsibility. The biggest responsibility is to accept the freedom and move on with excitement, enthusiasm and walk in unity. Why hasn’t this happened? I believe it is because too many black leaders have enjoyed the limelight by holding onto the past. They continue to hold onto the injustices of the past to keep their followers in bondage to their personal agendas. I was speaking to Pastor Neil Bernard of the New Wine Christian Fellowship, who is an African-American and registered Republican. He stated that he voted not by party but for the candidate who reflects his values and morals. He voted for Mr. Bush. I believe Pastor Bernard is one of the new leaders God is raising up to be a voice for all the people – black and white. He shared with me that too many of the black leaders, nationally and locally, have kept walls up that divided races instead of building bridges that bring people together. I agree, wholeheartedly. In the course of our conversation I said I was excited about Mr. Cleveland Farlough (also an African-American) becoming the St. John Parish Council chairman. I told Pastor Bernard that when Mr. Farlough ran for council-at-large, I couldn’t understand why a man, who rose to the top of the public school system after serving 40 years (he retired as parish superintendent), would want to serve on the council! “Maybe,” I said, “at 73 years of age, he will lead a new breed, including yourself, that will build the bridges necessary to see Martin Luther King’s dream come true.” I pray that God will raise up unselfish godly leaders who will carry on Martin Luther King’s vision for a color-blind America. It’s time for black and whites alike to move on for the good of the nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational group. Call Keller at 652-8477.