Martin Marty on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

March 29, 2018

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In the 1960s, Marty served as a pastor in Lawndale, near Martin Luther King’s residence at the time. Following the events of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, King and his supporters put out a call to the community to join them for a second march. That march came to be known as Turnaround Tuesday.

“We got up to where those guys in the blue were and they turned us around. King led us in prayer,” Marty said. “I learned that in [crisis], you’re still wrestling with the things you always wrestle with.” 

Marty reflected on grappling with the dictates of his Lutheran faith, which counseled against resisting higher authority, and the moral call to stand up for what was right.

“‘And there’s Romans 13, which every Lutheran has drummed into them that you don’t resist higher authority. So we’re sinning.’ Fortunately for us, King worked out that day with a good federal judge [who] lifted the injunction. But you had that problem.” 

Ultimately, the Civil Rights Movement pushed religious leaders to reflect on the teachings of their faith and the realities on the ground, provoking important conversations about religious and civic duty.

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Martin Marty on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement