Updated: Jan 24
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17 ESV
It has been 60 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech was a defining moment of the Civil Rights Movement and among the most memorable speeches in American history. In the speech, Dr. King called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States.
Dr. King was a drum major for justice who joined the Civil Rights movement in 1957 as the founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to urge active nonviolence to achieve civil rights for Black Americans. He paid the ultimate price for his civil rights advocacy when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Despite Dr. King’s best efforts and ultimate sacrifice, his dream of civil and economic rights for the oppressed and marginalized is yet to be fully realized.
Civil rights have been a dream deferred for many people of African descent. Indeed, despite the central claim in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created,” the socio-cultural reality for people of African descent has been and still is defined by racism and injustice. Thus, the great African American poet and prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance wrote a poem in 1951 entitled “A Dream Deferred” to capture the struggles of African Americans for justice and equal opportunity.
For many oppressed people in this country and around the world, justice remains a dream deferred. Their struggle against social and economic oppression is a nightmare they are forced to endure continuously. Indeed, as the wealth gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, most of the working poor and the disenfranchised are still dreaming of the day when they can truly experience the core tenets of the declaration of independence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness notwithstanding their race, ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation.
In today’s text, the great prophet Isaiah exhorted the people of Judah to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead for the widow’s cause. These prophetic words were spoken to the leaders and people of Judah because of the evil ways they treated one another. At the heart of this prophecy was a promise that God would deliver Judah from the tyranny of the Assyrians, and that the people of Judah should not treat one another as they were treated by the invaders. Isaiah wanted the people of Judah to know though their dream of deliverance from foreign occupation was deferred, God would ultimately deliver their nation from Assyrian occupation.
Justice is the unconditional right of every human being. No one should have to dream of a just life because of their nightmarish reality. Our God-given charge as disciples of Jesus Christ is to make sure that “Justice should roll down like water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” in this world of evil. Amos 5:24. We are to live like drum major for justice as we fight to correct oppression, bring justice to the downtrodden, and plead the cause of the voiceless.
The dream of a just and equitable life is deferred for the homeless, hopeless, and people who are food insecure. Brothers and sisters who are victims of the criminal justice system are yet dreaming of justice and waiting for due process. Their dream has been deferred indefinitely. True disciples of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent while socio, economic, and political tyranny is engulfing our community, this country, and the world. While we are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ and the rapture of His Church, we are yet to “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow's cause.” Isaiah 1:17.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What does it mean to be a drum major for justice?
What are some changes you need to make to function as a drum major for justice?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please sensitize my heart to the plight of the oppressed and downtrodden all the more. May your Holy Spirit give me the courage to operate as a drum major for justice. Please do not allow me to remain silent and indifferent while so many are food insecure, homeless, and hopeless. But teach me to do good; correct oppression and bring justice to the disenfranchised and downtrodden, in Jesus’ name!