How can we counter the upsurge of hate fomented by the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK in Charlottesville last week? These words of Martin Luther King, Jr., are more timely than ever: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I count Martin Luther King, Jr. a strong colleague. I met and spoke with him several times. I have a letter he sent me after I had chatted briefly with him about my decision to join the US Navy.
I spoke briefly with him in Atlanta,GA, just before he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. I had completed my Navy career and was, at the time, Associate Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Detroit. My wife, Carolyn, and I were the only white members of the church. Louis Johnson, the pastor, and I had flown to Atlanta for the annual convention of the Progressive National Baptist Churches.
Louis (in our church we called him PJ – Pastor Johnson) and I stayed together in Atlanta’s finest downtown hotel — the first time a black man and a white man had ever shared a room there. I was the only white delegate at the conference.
These memories and Brother Martin’s words never fail to inspire me and give me courage, especially in difficult times like these.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
19 August 2017