Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By   •   January 19, 2015   •   Topics: ,

mlk jr. and billy graham

New Documentary on DVD—Taking Down the Ropes of Segregation: Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Graham & The Civil Rights Movement

At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, a shot rang out. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., now lay sprawled on the balcony’s floor. A gaping wound covered a large portion of his jaw and neck.

Billy Graham was in Australia at the time of Dr. King’s death. He remembers the moment someone approached him with news of Dr. King’s assassination, which was followed by journalists seeking a quote: “I was almost in a state of shock. Not only was I losing a friend through a vicious and senseless killing, but America was losing a social leader and a prophet, and I felt his death would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history.”

Describing how he met Dr. King during a 1957 Crusade meeting in New York City, Mr. Graham writes in his autobiography, “One night civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom I was pleased to count a friend, gave an eloquent opening prayer at the service; he also came at my invitation to one of our Team retreats during the Crusade to help us understand the racial situation in America more fully.”

As their friendship grew, Dr. King asked Mr. Graham to call him by his nickname. “His father,” explains Graham, “who was called Big Mike, called him Little Mike. He asked me to call him just plain Mike.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in February 1948 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta at the age of 19. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

While there, Dr. King was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned from Dexter Avenue Baptist in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Dr. King credited Mr. Graham with having a significant part in reducing the tension between whites and blacks in the South. In 1965, Mr. Graham canceled a tour of Europe to preach a series of Crusades in Alabama, praying that the Gospel would tear down walls of division between the races and seeing the importance of his work alongside Dr. King’s.

Dr. King later said, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”

During the Civil Rights Movement, Mr. Graham preached: “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.”

Reflecting on how his thinking changed through the years, Mr. Graham writes, “I cannot point to any single event or intellectual crisis that changed my mind on racial equality. At Wheaton College, I made friends with black students, and I recall vividly one of them coming to my room one day and talking with deep conviction about America’s need for racial justice.

“Most influential, however, was my study of the Bible, leading me eventually to the conclusion that not only was racial inequality wrong but Christians especially should demonstrate love toward all peoples.”

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  1. David Sheffield says:

    Jesus said love one another…it does not get more straight forward than that!

  2. Sandra Campbell says:

    Amen, Dr.Graham!!

  3. Rev.Y.Gnanaselvan, Elder says:

    I wholeheartedly agree the statement of Dr.Graham. that Jesus is not a white man or a black man. But he identified with every race and loved every person and every man and woman of the world.

  4. Jeannette says:

    We are to thank the Lord Jesus for helping each other with the gifts that are given to up lift the church.

  5. Maria says:

    that is so emotional, thank God for His generals! Much love.

  6. Robert T Gamba says:

    “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3: 6
    Jesus makes a clear distinction between the outward and inward person. The flesh, the outward shell of skin and bones are for but a moment, but the spirit is eternal. The flesh is like the flower that has glory for a short season, and then it falls to the earth where it came from. God’s thoughts for us are in the eternal because that is were He is. He wants us to be with Him forever. Therefore, what is the value of the color of one’s skin? There is no positive or negative concerning a persons skin color. God tells us that our flesh is a vapor, here and then gone. The flesh, no matter what color it is, is only clothing for our spirits.

  7. Debbie says:

    Martin Luther King Jr. was an inspiration for all races, he was an honest man who did not show prejudice, always judging by the content of ones character not color of their skin. I remember the times Billy Graham stood with him united in Christ.

  8. Dennis Andrew Ball says:

    On this occasion of the life of Martin, let us give thanks that his legacy lives for us to.make a more perfect Union for the benefit of our children and future generations.

  9. Anthony Alfidi says:

    I am not religious, but it is good to know that Billy Graham did the right thing in support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.