• Administrator

MLK Visits After 48 Years

The following was written by Albert Vorspan, member at Hevreh, senior vice-president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, and former director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. It was shared at our community-wide interfaith celebration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I dreamed I saw Martin Luther King last night

ALIVE AS HE COULD BE

Wait, Dr. King, YOU DIED 48 YEARS AGO

I never died, said he

BUT, doctor, you must see

This is a bad time for your memory

IF PERCHANCE YOUR SPIRIT MIGHT HEARTEN

You can call me simply Martin

LOOK, I do not live from day to day, or even year to year

But, Martin, please, you were killed 48 year ago

I never died, said he

The arc of justice goes to and fro,

It sometimes wobbles, seems to slow

But the arc of  history still trends

Toward peace and justice in the end

But, Martin, why you still care is a mystery

When all you stood for may soon be history

Oh, no, my friend, don’t be a fool

Justice is as old as the Golden Rule

The prophets thundered, same as I

Jesus, Isaiah, Ghandi, Lincoln

Their voices will never die

The dream still lives, just hear the songs

The dream still lives, we can right the wrongs

OH, Martin you could always make a speech

Your I HAVE A DREAM IS STILL the classic that we teach

Now listen, I did not come to hear me praised unto the skies

I CAME TO SHOUT ARISE, MY FRIENDS, AND ORGANIZE

There was another speech that day from Rabbi Printz

Who had fled HITLER Germany and fought for justice ever since

His words were few but made good sense

Even worse than bigotry is the sin of silence

Dead or alive, tired or retired,

WE WILL NOT SILENTLY ABIDE

The death of rights for which we died

No offense, Martin, we are glad you are here, but why return?

WHO CARES WHAT HAPPENED WAY BACK THEN

The challenges of today are beyond your ken

Listen to me and listen well, the past is prologue

And those who ignore it are bound to repeat it

Blind passengers on a ship in the fog

The past is our teacher, ignore at your loss

In truth, you would never have heard my speech

If there had not been the thundering march of a thousand feet

And millions of Americans putting on the heat

Demanding justice and equal rights

All faiths and colors all day and night

Young folks, full of life but not afraid to die

They filled our jails, females and males

And little girls in Birmingham, never heard the nation wail

As Bull Connor, with dogs and hose in hand

Attacked Americans who took a stand

Martin, please don’t be modest, don’t equivocate

Without leaders like you we are not so great

Always too little and too late

And, Martin, I don’t mean to disrespect

But leaders like you are Heaven sent

If, as you say, the arc of life wobbles but trends to the good

It needs champions like you and not just

Us ordinary folk in the neighborhood

Look, Martin, I DO NOT MEAN ANY DISRESPECT

But we are in a very different time, I do suspect

A political earthquake exploded here

Those sacred rights may disappear

STOP RIGHT THERE AND NOT SO FAST

You can stop these prejudices from being passed

A vast distance separates play-acting and enacting

Remember the Tea Party, mostly nutty, kept the Congress from duly cting

SO HERE IS MY MESSAGE, LOUD AND CLEAR FOR YOU, YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS NEAR

Defend the defenseless, welcome the stranger

DRAW STRENGTH FROM THE INDIANS, South Dakota Sioux

They stopped an environmental evil and so could you

Speak out when black kids are killed because they are black

Or sobbing families are deported

AND REFUGEE FAMILIES ARE COLDLY THWARTED

Forget the environment we cant afford it

Enough, Martin, you have had your say

Leave something for another day…

Okay, okay, I CAN TAKE A HINT, TWO THINGS I WILL SAY BEFORE I GO

The Bible tells us there is no cure

It is commanded : THERE SHALL BE NO POOR

And there it is, short and sweet

The goal a government should meet

Thank you, Martin, it must be said

You are quite well read for a guy so DEAD

Oh, WAIT, WAIT, JUST ONE THING MORE

prophets taught us long before the iPod

Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

See you next year

Albert Vorspan is the senior vice-president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism and former director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. He was integral in the establishment of the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC. He is the author of several books on Judaism and social justice, as well as a numbe rof books of Jewish humor published by Doubleday. He has written for the op-ed page of the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine, as well as Time, Moment, Reform Judaism, and many other periodicals. During World War II, he served in the Navy as a gunnery officer on a destroyer escort in the Pacific. In 1984, he received the Allard Lowenstein Memorial Award of the American Jewish Congress; in 1987, he was honored with the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award by the Reform synagogue movement.

#martinlutherking #socialjustice

Hevreh of
southern
berkshire

413-528-6378

info@hevreh.org

270 State Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
Google Map Directions

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • white-vimeo-icon-450782

©2023 by Hevreh of Southern Berkshire. Web Design: Jacob Levine