Today is the 5oth anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. It is hard for me to think that such egregious, institutional racism existed here in the US so recently. King’s speech was truly a prophetic call to national righteousness, and it’s for this reason that I show it every semester when we talk about the OT Prophets, particularly Amos 5 which he cites.
As I consider Dr King’s call to equality, it makes me question how far we have really come. While there remains a great disparity between ethnicities (e.g., home ownership, income distribution and prison populations), we have made some great social advances, such as the election of an African-American president. Of course, many communities remain segregated, but I’m fortunate to live in the most ethnically diverse county in the US. Religiously, the story is still mixed. Although the Southern Baptist Convention sided with injustice in the past and many congregations remain just as segregated as 5o years ago, it raises the question of how far religiously we have come. I’ve argued earlier that MLK, Jr Day should be considered a Christian holiday, and so his NT-based ideals should be instantiated in our churches and institutions.
I’m proud to note that HBU is one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the US because we reflect the full diversity around us. According to my assessment of the US News statistics, we are the 3rd most diverse university/college in the US. Our diversity index is .76, and that number is higher than all the National Universities, all the National Liberal Arts Colleges, all the Regional Colleges and all but two of the Regional Universities (the category in which HBU is situated). Of course, this doesn’t mean that we have reached the place that King talked about, but I’m happy to know that Christian institutions, even Baptist ones, can help be at the forefront of racial reconciliation. May we continue to strive towards the dream of a multi-ethnic community as the NT (and MLK) calls us to.