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And we are the national educational radio network presents a special hour of the week on the occasion of the third anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The Reverend Malcolm Boyd former episcopal chaplain of Wayne State University Detroit in Ann Arbor for the past year writing a new prayer book humanlike me Jesus read from that book and remembered Dr. King. I don't remember when I first met Martin Luther King. Those are curious days. We thought we were just involved in time and we were involved in history. So of course we weren't conscious of it we were just doing it. I mean of Rosa Parks and I knew about the bus. Martin King and I came together for the first time and we started the freedom ride in 1961 and if you read the John Howard Griffin's black like me you remember the dry 80s
street Y.M.C.A. in the wall and that's where we were 27 of us white and black. Starting our freedom ride and Martin King sent Wyatt Walker to us that night to instruct us in nonviolence. That's an incredible phrase to instruct to 700 violence since we breathe it and eat it and live with it. But the point was nonviolence was not to be seen as a technique but a way of life. And you see we were going to move into situations for which we had no preparations we really sort of middle class people and we didn't know that to put our hand to our face would mean attack and that we would be charged with assault. Particularly if we're bringing our hand to workplace to keep ourselves from being hit in the mouth. But the monkey wrench that would knock our teeth out. We're like a child with a cobra. They remember such as at Ray's
Indian film about the child with the cobra. We had no knowledge of these things. I was terrified that night I remember I didn't sleep. And we started out not having any idea what we were confronting. And chronologically it gets mixed up. There was so many things that happened then we did a sit in at a restaurant owned by the Episcopal church that wouldn't serve black people and I was sitting next to a black priest and several students in a surprise couple college came up and looked deep into his face his name is Quinlan Gordon. And this one student said I see the collar It's white but the face is so dark you can't tell if it's a man. And I had mobs around that as they were drinking and we saw the cross burned on the lawn. It was dangerous.
Then a man died very tragically. There was a white crook who was sent after us three black clergy and myself driving down the road to kill us apparently or to ambush us and his car it came behind us careening madly and it's got ahead of us and went around the corner and we assumed he was drunk. It was all we could as we turned a corner and the car had crashed and his body lay in the road with the blood spilling out. And Bob Chapman a black priest now at the National Council of Churches prayed over him and made the sign of the cross on his forehead. We tried to stop the traffic so that people wouldn't be killed coming around the curve. And an ambulance was sent. The word then that we got very quickly was that the man was damned into eternal hell because a black man had had his hand on him at his death making the sign of the cross.
It's odd to have lived through this because it doesn't make sense to some of you in the same way that when I spoke to black students at Purdue Recently I had. I began by saying you know I remember when when we couldn't eat together in a restaurant and now it would be that black students probably wouldn't wish to eat with whites but it wouldn't be that we couldn't eat in the restaurant. So do you have any have any connections here because very difficult in terms of experience. I am presently reading Saul Bellow as Mr. Sam was planet. Beautiful book at dessert the National Book Award and I feel like Mr. Sandler a little tonight in that I'm trying to make connections that cannot be made. And I'm also as a white person speaking on the memorial of Martin Luther King there's so many connections that make me feel like Mr. Sam why this evening the movement went on. I guess I was next in the Freedom House in McComb Mississippi standing guard from midnight to 3:00 so that the students inside who are working on voter registration wouldn't be
killed. The house had been bombed once 20 churches and bar homes of black people were bombed it was a period of weeks in that community. There was no intervention from anybody. And we got all those death threats every night. And then and during this period we listened to Martin King's talking about not nonviolence. Then I was with four young black men of Snick and we spent a summer together in rural Mississippi and Alabama. And they said at the beginning you know we can't put up with you as a white or a honky at all we can't live this intimately or for this amount of time with a white you have to be a nigger like we are. In that case it meant we would have to share in the dehumanization process of the society around us together and not talk about it. And I would be Malcolm and I wouldn't be anything else. And we slept on the shack floors every
night. Poor black family would give us one meal a day a week. We showed white contempt which was new for me in that form. All morning when I learned about that that summer we do 150 miles below the speed limit to avoid arrest and then we were arrested and beaten. I'd like to the law and order people to understand that sitting in this stiff necked pride arrogance and not understanding daring to talk about Law and Order when they don't live in they get out. I don't understand why people who don't understand these things but this late day. It is just in comprehensible. We always were across the tracks there was no movie. It had no air conditioning of the clergy in the white town where whores paid by the people to preach what they demanded to hear they were dismissed. The newspapers were controlled but towns were controlled. In the entire summer I spent in the Deep South that summer only two clergy would consent to meet me the entire summer. Both Catholic priests
no Protestant clergy and one Catholic priest had to change cars three times in meeting me at our house and he said the bishop has said you say one word about Jesus and justice and you're out. Shut up father and the priest said I would have to speak and I would wait and speak and then I would be destroyed. The realities and the woman I was with him snicker were black loathed Martin Luther King. Might have been in the shack where I was the only white person and King came on the news and they said with a great deal of obscenity turn him off. And meanwhile all the billboards showed King as a communist and white people all said King was a communist plotting the death of America the downfall of the country a corrupt man. How isolated he was when you realize that he wasn't ever on guard or chic with blacks and he wasn't in with whites.
But we have rights. He sure as hell didn't have a great deal else. Biola Loizzo used to come to my apartment when I was at Wayne State and one night in Washington the phone rang and United Press called I said Mrs. Louisa was dead and her husband just told us when we informed him of her death that she had gone south after that meeting in your apartment. Have you a statement for the press. And I remember John Daniel so well. It was in Brown Chapel in Selma. I member King in Brown Chapel we were all there everybody was there. Jim Foreman spoke Jim was my favorite of everybody because he always sort of said the truth to me.
So that Stokeley in those days very very much for Jim Farmer spoke Ralph Abernathy spoke Jim Bevell remember him spoke very eloquently and then Martin King came in exhausted he was always very tired. I mean that's the night he said I would rather die on the highways of Alabama than make a butchery of my conscience. And then of course I remember it so my going out following King. I was walking with Bob Spike who if you recall was murdered Columbus Ohio. And I remember on that stage of that chapel and in the Brown Chapel and some I wrote plays on racial things and we toured them or these. We went to black community centers and little towns of Mississippi Alabama where black people had never
been in a theater or seen a play and we did the plays under all watch tin roofs at 3:00 in the afternoon when the temperature was 113 degrees and it was marvelous it was People's Theater. Great things happened I was so conscious of the play and we couldn't have a pin drop or any noise interrupt the play and then this one play I wrote called Boy somebody throws coins and contempt to the shoeshine man and this little kid of five because the audience is crowding around us. Came up and says You dropped this coin. And I thought the play is destroyed. All the rules are gone and the Audi everybody is screaming in laughter. A good laugh and I thought what we had can we get back. The tension the tautness. I was a fool we we went right on the plane. It was the best they could have ever happened with the plane.
Cultures meeting education taking place and we did that we did those plays in Brown Chapel Jonathan Daniels in the third row and then I went to Los Angeles and the Watts riot. And joined more Samual and we were the two whites in Watts dispensing milk and bread and shutting up and listening to black people say what it was all about. That's when Billy Graham and Senator Murphy flew over in helicopters and issued press releases that it was Communists. We didn't need any communists we let some black people who weren't going to live that way anymore. And then John Daniels was shot you remember. And I was on the plane leaving Watts very tired because I'd been in Mississippi Alabama the rest of the summer and I got the Los Angeles Times and I opened it on the
plane and the headline was John was dead John and Stokely and some other people all of them black except for John were in jail for that week when they let them out. They wouldn't let them. I don't know they sort of forced them down the street and they went in the store just to have someplace to phone and a white man shot John and critically wounded father Morrisroe the Catholic priest in Chicago. John was the finest young man I have ever known. The idealism his loss that day I sat there sobbing on the airplane. And then the funeral another funeral. I flew back Woodstock because Michael from the funeral he says I hope the plane doesn't crash I'd like to die for something other than a plane crash. This was the movement. Martin Luther King was the overriding figure.
Everybody acting against him to Him loving hating and admiring arguing with. And Malcolm X playing a very different kind of function. The last time I was with Martin King was in Washington. I was with him the day before he won the Nobel Peace Prize in St. Louis and I met him at the airport. We had one of my best talks coming in from the airport. He had no idea naturally that he would be awarded the Peace Prize. And we were all so happy the next day when that was announced in Washington he spoke to us a clergy and laymen concerned about Vietnam in February. Not too long before his death he said this I like.
So I was reading this a couple of days ago. Sounds like him. The transcript. We all know the war in Vietnam has strengthened the military industrial complex of this nation. We know that the war in Vietnam has strengthened the forces of reaction in our nation. We know that the war in Vietnam is six. Says exasperated I wonder if the printing if its successor bait it. The tensions between the continents and between the races and it does not help America nor its so-called image to be the most powerful and the richest nation in the world at war with one of the smallest and poorest nations in the world which happens to be a colored nation. When you think about the fact today that our government spends about $500000 to kill every Vietcong soldier we spend at the same time about fifty three dollars a year per person for everybody that is characterized as poverty stricken. In the so-called war against poverty that is not even a good skirmish against poverty. And I'm continuing Martin King's remarks and we can look around and see how we find ourselves
with mixed up priorities. President Johnson raised the question the other day the other night rather when he gave his State of the Union address. He talked about the 70 million televisions in our country. He talked about all the beautiful new highways in the beautiful new cars about 8 million a year that are flowing down these highways he talked about are material abundance and then he said something that needs an answer when he went on to say that yet there is a restlessness in the land. He said that there is so much questioning and I would like to say that there was a restlessness in the land because the land doesn't seem to have a sense of purpose a proper sense of policy in a proper sense of priority. This is the basis for this restlessness. The wounds of Jesus are still applicable. What does it profit a generation what does it profit a nation to own the whole world of means television automobiles electric lights and in the end lose the soul and the words of Jesus are still true in another sense man cannot live by the bread of color television alone but by every word the word of love the word of Justice the word of truth. Every wood that proceeded out
of the mouth of God. And the problem is that all too many people in power are trying to get America to live on the wrong things. And he said I said some time ago when the press jumped on me about it. I want to say it today one more time and I'm very sad to say it. We live in a nation that is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today. Any nation that spends almost 80 billion of its annual budget for defense channel to the Pentagon and hands out a pittance here and there for so shall uplift is moving toward its own spiritual doom. I say it over and over again that something must be changed. We have played havoc with the destiny of the world and we have brought the whole world closer to a nuclear confrontation. Somewhere we must make it clear that we are concerned about the survival of the world in the days when Sputniks and Gemini are dashing through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are causing highways of death to the stratosphere
where no nation can ultimately win a war. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence and the alternative to disarmament the alternative to a great suspension of nuclear test the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world will be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. And our earthly habitat will be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not envision. We have to see that and work diligently and passionately for peace. You know when the freedom movement we have a song that we sing based on the spiritual and I hope we'll continue to sing that song and sing it in the peace movement. Somehow we got to sing that I ain't going to let nobody turn me round. I'm still convinced the struggle for peace in the struggle for civil rights as we call it in America happened to be tied together. These two issues are tied together in many many ways. There's a wonderful thing to work to integrate lunch counters public accommodations and schools.
But I would be rather absurd to work to get schools and lunch counters integrated not be concerned with the survival of a world in which to integrate. And I'm convinced that these two issues are tied inextricably together and I feel that the people who are working for civil rights are working for peace. I feel that the people working for peace are working for civil rights and justice. OK. I ain't gonna let nobody turn me round I remember that at Medgar Evers funeral I I went down and we went out in the morning at about 4:00 to look at the bullet hole in the glass I mean it looked like a cancer. And the Episcopal layman across the street I guess in that tall grass had allegedly shot him. Byron De La Beckwith we have our names. Byron De La Beckwith an orange Bergen. And then we went to the funeral on that and then just as we were in front of a funeral house at the end of
it's the young black students started singing ain't going to let nobody turn me around and started running back toward the police and they forced us at bayonet point back two blocks and reminiscing I remember when I joined trials Evers two years later and I integrated with another white man the black motel in matches and Charles integrated the Holiday Inn and they put Charles in a room facing a forest reminiscent of course of Medders depth in the tall grass. And they bombed the black motel. So much has happened. I'm going to. Read a few prayers from my new prayer book humanlike
me Jesus. Are you running with me Jesus came very much out of two influences or forces. One was I don't have to say the student movement surely. Students I was sort of an Episcopal chaplain sitting in my center. They always reminded me of a monopoly set in the Prescott Avenue in Kentucky Avenue one. And people would come in and ask how many persons were in the Trinity. And I remember the day that I realized that my place was out with the students who terrified me. And I went out to the student union and set there sort of hiding behind a newspaper.
Hoping desperately that someone would come up and make some human contact with me. And at the same time fearing the contect in my heart really pounding in about 15 students have of course surrounded you in five minutes and they're poking you and prodding you and seeing if you bleed and if you laugh and then they took me with them to their coffee houses and beer joints then the Bishop fired me. But that was OK. And the other influence the black movement. The Yankee prophecies of today's newspaper are gloomy Jesus but I don't want to be dismayed by what appears hard or even hopeless. I want to celebrate life blood flows through my veins rainfalls Lord. Waters surged through the earth. I know that the sun is up Jesus even when it's hidden by low gray clouds. I know that the wind is here even when it's of still look a leaf trembles on
that tree. I can see yellows reds blues greens black and white. Love is all around me. Sometimes it is called hate. I feel like singing smelling looking biting. Laughing tasting crying. Painting walking dancing running living. Jesus. Who am I Jesus. I know there's a face a smile and a frown. There was passion a residue of rage and an icy capacity to withdraw. There was the familiar body the uncharted mind and the shimmy Leon performing as a clown. I know there was a tenderness a warmth and a biting revenge that reacts to real or imaginary hurt. There is the man woman the
child and the indelible image of God that calls to me and what I know was a conscience. There was a hunger that is insatiable. A thirst that burns and gnaws and I hide selfishness that can be viciously cruel. I know there is a vaulting ambition a complex drive that will not let me rest and the laziness made for a summer's day. There is an idealism that can start on my self-interest a sense of duty that can suffocate my ticklish inclinations toward abandon and a ruthless sense of self sovereignty that can arrogantly try to bluff even Almighty God. I know there is a cultivated self-sufficiency a suicidal loneliness and a dreaded anxiety. There is a personal history with tears and laughter. A public life and a being so vulnerable that it can be smashed into pieces like glass. What is there in me of Holiness Jesus. What is there within
me possessing hidden life that cannot be broken or burned or obliterated. What is there of me that is love Lord. You became human Jesus as a man you experienced loneliness anger joy depression and hope. Thank you for being human. Like me Jesus. It was a swinging party Jesus. But the people seemed to be tense. They were in constant motion and playing tight roles. Everybody was scripted and choreographed. Booze covered up a multitude of neuroses celebration everybody was to have fun. I saw a woman dressed in gold pajamas and enough costume jewelry to sink an excursion boat. She had too much to drink.
She kept saying I want to work with the poor in Africa the poor Africa. I want to work with the poor in Africa. I wondered what she really wanted Lorde and what was her Africa. What can marriage mean Jesus. They wonder once again but now it's a little late to ask the church is decorated with candles to provide light for their evening wedding. Their parents are upfront guests including lots of school friends have crowded into the Gothic structure. A former roommate of his is playing guitar music softly a former roommate of hers will read a poem. The minister will say to have and to hold from this day forward for better for worse for richer for poorer in sickness and in health to love and to cherish till death us do part. They feel separate from each other as they haven't in months.
For one thing they haven't slept together during the past week since they've both been living in their old homes again. Too they're anxious about this public park proclamation of themselves. They hope it will not bruise something sensitive and private in their lives Lord. The procession is moving up the aisle. Jesus. What is effectiveness. Jesus. Some people place it ahead of honesty. But without honesty. Wouldn't something just appear on the surface to be effective. I mean it would really be a failure Lord. Success and failure seem to be badly misunderstood don't there. They're judged by outward appearances instead of inner realities. I felt my deepest failure at moments when people said I was a success Lord I have felt fulfilled and successful as a human being when I was most severely judged to be a failure. You've taught us Jesus that a person can gain the whole world and lose his soul.
This seems to be true for whole nations and societies too. Have we ever really heard what you were saying Lord. Malcolm Boyd reading from his new Prayer Book human like me jesus and remembering Martin Luther King Jr. in an arbor only occasion of the third anniversary of the assassination. Of Malcolm Boyd was the former episcopal chaplain of Wayne State University in Detroit roving missionary for young and old alike and author of the prayer book. Are you running with me. Jesus and he are as special of the week thanks WUOM at the University of Michigan for the recording of this program. More from Reverend Boyd next week on NDE are the national educational radio network.
Special of the week
Issue 21-71 Rev. Malcolm Boyd
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Special of the week; Issue 21-71 Rev. Malcolm Boyd,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 20, 2024,
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APA: Special of the week; Issue 21-71 Rev. Malcolm Boyd. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from