On August 28, 2013, she will be there. Faithful among the faithful at the Hubert H. Humphrey Center at the University of Minnesota, United States. “To continue to defend civil rights,” she explains. Fifty years after the famous march for jobs and freedom in Washington, Josie Johnson has lost none of her activist fervor. “At the time, I was 33 years old,” recalls the tireless old lady with the melodious accent. I worked as a neighborhood organizer for the Urban League of Minneapolis, a grassroots organization that provided logistical assistance to African-Americans from the South who wanted to move to the North. » When she disembarks from the airport that morning, an unreal calm envelops the capital. Josie then feels anxiety rising within her. What if the march was a flop? His doubts quickly fade away as a string of buses, cars and trains arrive from the four corners of the country. “I dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood “There were ultimately nearly 250,000 demonstrators, gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, when Martin Luther King, a Baptist pastor from Montgomery, Alabama, took the podium before the closing blessing. “I dream that one day, on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood,” he says, with a deep and penetrating tone. one day the State of Mississippi itself, burning with the fires of injustice, burning with the fires of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice…” The speech, unforgettable, unfolds a dark chant, full of images, biblical references and musical syncopations, in the pure tradition of Negro spirituals. Lost in the middle of the crowd, Josie burst into tears. “Everyone seemed electrified,” she remembers with emotion. No only Dr. King proved to be a magnificent orator but, above all, he offered us real hope for change, just a century after the abolition of slavery. » ► Video. Memphis after the tragedy. 13 minutes. Source: INA.
Violence, however, does not disarm. “Three weeks later, on September 22, a bomb exploded in a church in Birmingham and killed four little black girls,” recalls Serge Molla, pastor of the Vaud Reformed Church. The unifying message of the “American Ghandi” nevertheless continues to spread like a trail of hope. “I discovered King on the airwaves of Radio Luxembourg. He very quickly became the hero of my adolescence.” In South Africa, where non-violent campaigns against apartheid are increasing, but also in France, where rapid arrests of young Algerian workers are commonplace. You just have to listen to Father Christian Delorme talk about the black pastor to be convinced of his universal aura. “I discovered King on Radio Luxembourg. He very quickly became the hero of my adolescence,” testifies the Lyon priest, priest of the Prado since 1973. “He practiced the ecumenism of charity. He spoke of peace and reconciliation at a time when the scars of the Algerian war were still very present in the Guillotière district of Lyon, where I lived. When he came to give a conference at the Labor Exchange in March 1966, I begged my mother to go and listen to him. It is no coincidence that I became a priest a few years later… Through his example, King showed me that it was possible to serve the Church at the same time as justice. » “It is the words that move men forward” A commitment which cost the life of Pastor King, assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. By paying a high price for his convictions, the “black Moses” will become a true global icon. One of those prophetic voices that man needs to build himself at pivotal moments in his history. “It’s the words that move men forward,” recalls Dominique Jamet, author of the book I have a dream – These speeches that changed the world . “Words that uplift, words that liberate, words that persuade. » ► Read the rest of the article in Pilgrim No. 6821, of August 22, 2013.