Unification News for February 2004

MLK Prayer Breakfast in Chicago

by Rev. Sutchar

True Parents have stated that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the greatest American of the 20th century. Dr. King, a young university scholar, who had aspired to become a college professor was called by God to lead the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s.

He was a young man in his thirties throughout most of his public career. Many of our ACLC ministers worked with him when they were very young. Shepherd A.I. Dunlap, led the Civil Rights movement from Farmville, Virginia and brought several busloads of people to attend Dr. King’s "I have a Dream Speech" in the mall in Washington, DC. Rev. M. E. Sardon, was told to bring $200 with him from Chicago (for bail money) when he went down to Albany, Georgia to work with Dr. King. Rev. James Bevel was Dr. King’s chief strategist, who planned the March on Selma, which was recently re-enacted by Rev. Rawls and our ACLC ministers.

Even Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Dr. King’s closest ally throughout the movement, became our close friend in the last few years of his life -- coming up to Chicago to defend our 4 ministers who were threatened with imprisonment by the Chicago Tribune for protesting the use of "M" word, in much the same way they protested the use of "N" word earlier. Dr. Gloria Wright from Atlanta who marched with us in Israel had, as a young student, marched with Dr. King in Georgia. And the list could go on and on.

Dr. King was threatened with death and the death of his family. But God was able to give him the strength that he never had himself. God picked him and brought him to the mountain top where he was given a vision of the future. In his last speech, while supporting the striking garbage workers in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. King spoke these words directly. "I have been to the mountain top and I have seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but the day is coming when people will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin."

Many of the civil rights veterans who are now working with us have stated that they felt that Dr. King was killed because he attempted to bring all people together. And they feel that after his death, the mantle of breaking down racism passed from Dr. King on to our True Parents.

In this vein, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago has honored Dr. King every year with a magnificent prayer breakfast. This is truly the centerpiece of all of the City of Chicago programs every year. Everybody who is anybody in the fields of religion or politics is a must see at the event. The mayor brings in incredible speakers (such as Dr. King’s daughter Yolanda, the best speaker in the family, the best choirs and the leaders in the field of religion from all denominations and all faiths.

This year, Chicago’s own Bishop Ki Hoon Kim was invited to offer the Unity Prayer. Bishop Kim was himself amazed, because he was nominated by a Korean businessman who recommended Bishop Kim over his own pastor. And Bishop Kim gave a moving prayer as he stood in the position of our True Parents.

As all others before it, this years program was filled with both prayer and song. The keynote address was delivered by Chicago activist priest Father Michael Pfleger, who had been chosen by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to give the keynote address on this same occasion in Atlanta one year earlier. Father Pfleger challenged the audience to actively live the ideals that Dr. King had died for 36 years earlier.

As has become our tradition, the program ended as all of the ministers and political leaders in the audience were invited on the stage and we all sang "We Shall Overcome" while holding hands as the Rev. Willie Barrow, President Emeritus of Operation Push offered the benediction. And one had to feel that our True Parents and Dr. King would have been happy -- for the stage was covered with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, African-Americans, Caucasians, Asians, Democrats, Republicans and Unificationists -- all holding hands, all singing together and all pledging together to carry our Dr. King’s dream.

Before we departed Bishop Kim was able to gather together our Japanese sisters, David Rendel, our Illinois AFC President and take a group photo with Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George.

A good time was had by all and we departed to prepare for our January 31st Rally for Peace in the Middle East in Chicago. You are all more than welcome to attend -- and bring a friend!

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