I've wavered on where to post this. As a comment on the Gawker post? I think I will start here instead.

I attend an all-white (except for one African-American member), very liberal UCC (look them up) congregation. We are small, <200 members. There might be a couple of Repubs in the congregation but they are of the "socially liberal/fiscally conservative" type, in other words, the dying breed. We emphasize "extravagant welcome to all" so although we are overwhelmingly liberal and centrist Dems, we have a few members who may not always vote entirely to the left but who believe in some form of social justice and "live and let live."

This is to give you a frame of reference regarding the commemoration of MLK's I Have a Dream Speech which took place during our service this past Sunday. I am questioning this not because it was commemorated in church, but because of how it was done.

Two middle-aged white ladies got up and took turns reading the stirring conclusion to the speech, the part that is seared in everyone's memory. Do I even need to explain why I found this weird? MLK was all about the oratory. Hearing these women repeat these words just, I don't know, it felt like sacrilege. Why didn't they just play a video of the speech?

Then we all joined hands for a stirring and emotional rendition of all the verses of "We Shall Overcome." I felt like an imposter singing that song. I've sung it before, a verse here and there. But on this particular day, singing it for this particular reason, after the odd reading, I questioned my right, as a white, middle-class suburban single mom, to stand there and sing it. Sure, I've overcome things. Divorce, a child's brain tumor surgeries, debt (pending). But something felt so wrong about the way our church—a white, middle- to upper-middle-class bunch of suburban liberals—chose to commemorate the anniversary of this speech. I imagined many black people observing us and shaking their heads at our ham-handed display of white guilt. Is that what it was? Or can we have a heartfelt commemoration of a man and a speech that brought a sea change to our country (which includes expressions of "overcoming") with all sincerity?


I think it's important to have acknowledged it, but watching MLK deliver the speech and then having a prayer of thanks and remembrance seems like it would have been the best way to do that. I wanted to ask our one black member afterwards what he thought, but he is not the type to foster controversy and I don't know if I would have necessarily gotten a truthful answer. And I was afraid I would embarrass myself.

I would like to know what others think about this.