The cadences of his speech still ring in my ears. I can hear him, even today, as clearly as I heard him fifty years ago. Although I wasn’t at the Washington Mall that August day, my radio was on. In the intervening years, I’ve heard recordings of his sermons and his speeches. Often when I read the prophets, I hear their words in the voice of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ve heard him say with the prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”This week, I’ve been hearing him say the words of the prophet Isaiah, “If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted….you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”This is a week for remembering King and others like him who were repairers of the breach and restorers of streets to live in. On August 28, our country will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Poverty.Just a few days earlier, on August 26, we will celebrate Women’s Equality Day as we mark the 93rd anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote.
Pause, and remember with me repairers of the breach and restorers of the streets to walk in.
Harriet Tubman who freed over a thousand slaves:
Eleanor Roosevelt who stood in the breach with shipyard workers, Jews fleeing Hitler, women working in wartime factories, latch-key children, African-American farm workers and countless others:
Gloria Steinam who launched a magazine and a revolution:
And Maggie Kuhn, the first Gray Panther!
All repairers of the breach and restorers of streets to walk in.
There’s one more I’d like to draw to your attention. A young Episcopal seminarian who, fifty years ago, took a bullet aimed at a young African American woman. A young man repairing the breach and restoring streets in the segregated south. Jonathan Myrick Daniels:
Singling out these famous or quasi-famous people in a way distorts the words of Isaiah. Words addressed to people like you and me. In the days ahead, let’s keep watch for the repairers of the breach and restorers of streets in our lives. They are there before our very eyes.