Content of Character: A Letter to Dr. King


The Rev. Dr. Tonya N. Lawrence shared the following letter on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She serves as Associate Director of Congregational Development for the North Georgia Conference. (Photo: Maile Bradfield, United Methodist Communications)

April 4, 1968

Dear Dr. King,

On this day, your “good and faithful” journey on this earth will come to an abrupt end. Many will shed tears which will stain this horrific memory upon their hearts. Some will believe that the “trouble making” was killed off with you, but they will soon realize that the blood that you shed will further fuel the movement.

The Garbage Strike that you came to fight will end in just a few short weeks. Folks of difference will find a way to unite around the causes for which you gave your life. They loathe you now, Dr. King, but they will laud you later.

Four days after your death, Congressman John Conyers, will start a petition to honor your birthday. In 1980, Stevie Wonder will help the longsuffering effort by singing Happy Birthday to you and in 1983 your birthday will finally become a National Holiday! We will love this song so much that we will sing it loudly on our birthdays too.

Dr. King, you fought the good fight. Your exhaustion will become your eternal rest, but the battle continues. We will still desire after the beloved community. Some things will seem to be as troubling fifty years from now as they are today but we will continue to pray for Black Lives to Matter and we will maintain the hope that all will find the strength to love.

In fifty years, the Lorraine Motel will become the National Civil Rights Museum. Yes, this safe place to lodge that will feel your final breath, will provide many the opportunity to learn about the history that you are currently making. Your children will talk about their personal struggle of still having you here or knowing that you died for a greater cause and will find ways to accept the latter. Your granddaughter will speak of the same dream in front of many, many people in the same way that you did.

I am not yet born, but I will come to know of your good works. I will memorize your speeches. I will pour over the words that you wrote and spoke and I will live a life impacted by you.

Your life will speak deeply into my own. I will become a member of SCLC, WOMEN, Inc. and take many youth and confirmation classes on the annual Civil Rights Heritage Tour with Mrs. Evelyn Lowery to learn about you and many others.

You were judged., but the content of your character will prevail! Hallal…..Alleluia! Thank you, Dr. King, thank you!

Tonya Nicole