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In 1929…
            The Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming was established.
            Popeye the Sailor made his debut.
            The first Oscars were given out at the Academy Awards.
            The world’s population was 2,059 million people.
            Herbert Hoover was President.
            The average income in the US was $1,582.00 per year.
            Sunglasses were invented.
            Ethel Waters sang Am I Blue… Fats Waller sang Ain’t Misbehavin’… 
Eddie Cantor sang Makin’ Whoopee
            The Green Bay Packers were NFL Champions.
The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup.
The Philadelphia Athletics won the World Series!
Famous Birthdays in 1929…
            Grace Kelly… Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis… June Carter Cash…
Audrey Hepburn…Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, GA to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife Alberta Williams King.  Young Martin was a preacher’s kid, the son of the long-time pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  When Martin was just 19 years old, he was ordained at Ebenezer and went on to pastor Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery.  Then, after his father had served 44 years at Ebenezer, Martin became the pastor in 1960.  On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. claimed the world stage as he addressed a crowd of nearly 250,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  That day, Martin offered a hope and a challenge to the people of the United States:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up
and live out the true meaning of its creed:
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

It has been 94 years since Martin was born and 60 years since he declared this audacious goal for our nation.  Consider how our nation has changed in that length of time.

In 1929…
  • In 1929, the Ku Klux Klan was an out-in-the-open, part-of-the-community organization.  They sponsored baseball teams, father-son outings, and Beautiful Baby contests.  The KKK was listed in the Indiana, PA city directory along side sewing clubs and agricultural societies. In 1929, the KKK stood at two million members strong nationwide.
  • In 1929, a complex web of statutes called Jim Crow laws created a color line that separated the races, impacting education, housing, travel, recreation, healthcare, and the hiring and wages for African Americans especially in the South. Colored Only… Whites Only signs were visible markers of segregation. 
  • In 1929, the Stock Market crashed beginning the Great Depression that lasted until 1939.  While no group escaped the economic devastation of the Great Depression, African Americans experienced the highest unemployment rates in the country.  By 1934, unemployment among African Americans in Martin’s hometown of Atlanta- 70%.  In Philadelphia- 60%.  “Last hired, first fired” became the reality for African Americans.
  • In 1929, The Chicago Whip editor Joseph Bibb organized boycotts of city department stores that refused to hire African American workers.  “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” boycotts changed some hiring practices.
  • Martin and his brother and sister were educated in a segregation Colored Only school. Legal segregation in education continued until the landmark Supreme Court case in 1954- Brown vs. the Board of Education.

As we remember the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., it would be easy to look back over the last 94 years and celebrate the changes that have come.  Today, the KKK functions as a fringe group with an estimated 8,000 members.  The segregation once codified in our legal system has been deemed unconstitutional by one Supreme Court case after another.  Educational and occupational opportunities are improved for the Black community.  Yet, my college students remind me every semester that we have not yet achieved the dream that Dr. King proclaimed that day from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  They are right to expect an equality that recognizes that we are all created in the Imago Dei- the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  The events of the last few years, make it painfully clear we still have a long way to go.  So today, I recommit myself to being a part of the solution in my personal interactions, in my volunteer efforts, and in my charitable giving.  I invite you to join me in being God’s mission of grace in a broken world.

With you praying for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven,
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