By Lynn Grinnell
My friends on both sides of the aisle, is it possible that the philosophy of my hero, Martin Luther King, can speak to controversial voices in unexpected places? I can attest to that fact: I went to a deeply moving event, Restoring Unity, in Birmingham, AL, a few years ago, hosted by Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of the predominantly black Guiding Light Church, in Birmingham, and Glenn Beck. The march followed the same route as Martin Luther King Jr.’s route in 1963. Over 20,000 traveled to Birmingham to march for unity.
Bishop Lowe had been surprised by the empathy and reasonableness Glenn exhibited when he, Bishop Lowe, attended a preview screening of the movie, Woodlawn, at Glenn’s studio in Dallas. That prompted him to work with Beck to organize the Restoring Unity march and march with him at the front. Bishop Lowe spoke at the event that evening – what an inspiring speaker! When he was very young, Bishop Lowe and his sisters were in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that was bombed on Sep 15th, 1963, killing four little girls and sparking more protests and a growing, wide-spread sympathy across the country. MLK’s niece, Alveda King, was also involved in Restoring Unity, and spoke of her uncle’s MLK’s asking fellow volunteers to sign the following non-violence pledge:
I hereby pledge myself—my person and body—to the nonviolent movement. Therefore I will keep the following ten commandments:
- Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
- Remember always that the non—violent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory.
- Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
- Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
- Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
- Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
- Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
- Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
- Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
- Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.
I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to persevere.
Following the march, which proclaimed that “all lives matter,” Glenn Beck’s views evolved on the idea after inviting several Black Lives Matter advocates to speak with him and his audience. Essence magazine commented on the change, saying, “In a surprising turn of events, conservative political commentator Glenn Beck is voicing his empathy for the Black Lives Matter movement… A particularly interesting point in Beck’s commentary came when he spoke about not judging all African Americans or all members of the Black Lives Matter movement by the negative things that have happened within their circles.”
Yes, amazing though it may seem, one person influenced by MLK Jr and individuals in the BLM movement can then influence millions of others who tune in to him. One African American bishop listening to Glenn Beck with an open mind and heart led him to invite Glenn to march with him in Birmingham. Martin Luther King’s peaceful protests changed a nation as people in his time watched his calls for peace and justice on TV news. On this day of remembrance for a truly great man, I invite you to listen with your heads and your hearts, and you will be amazed at the common ground you hear.
‘All Lives Matter’ march draws thousands to Birmingham. See https://www.al.com/living/2015/08/all_lives_matter_march_draws_m.html
Alveda King: Attempt on His Life in 1958 Didn’t Harden MLK’s Heart See: https://www.charismanews.com/culture/91209-alveda-king-attempt-on-his-life-in-1958-didn-t-harden-mlk-s-heart
MLK Commitment Card. See http://www.loveoutloudws.com/union-blog/2019/2/14/mlk-commitment-card
Glenn Beck Voices Empathy & Understanding For Black Lives Matter: One of the most notorious voices in conservative media has a slight change of heart. See https://www.essence.com/news/glenn-beck-empathy-black-lives-matter/
See more of Bishop Lowe at https://www.guidinglight.org/
See more of Glenn Beck at https://www.glennbeck.com/