United Methodists share MLK’s dream

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (right) stands with the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. (left) and Virgil Wood on the roof of a Boston public school in 1965. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell.
The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (right) stands with the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. (left) and Virgil Wood on the roof of a Boston public school in 1965. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the face of the African American civil rights movement throughout the 1960s until his assassination on April 4, 1968.

The United Methodist Church recognizes the right of individuals to dissent when acting under the constraint of conscience and, after having exhausted all legal recourse, to resist or disobey laws that they deem to be unjust or that are discriminately enforced. Therefore, many United Methodists joined King in his march toward equality, and in his wake, those United Methodist voices continue to advocate for justice for all, as their faith calls them to.

In this video series we meet some of the United Methodists who walked with Dr. King and share his dream.

March for Peace, Jobs and Freedom on the 20th anniversary of the original march in Washington, D.C. 1984. The Rev. James Lawson (center) leads a group from Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Photo by John C. Goodwin, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

The Rev. James Lawson

The Rev. Jim Lawson was a friend and fellow "warrior of peace" with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He played a prominent role in the civil rights movement.

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Dorothy Height, chairwoman of the National Council of Negro Women, received the Church Women United Human Rights Award during a presentation at the United Nations. Height, a longtime member of St. Mark's United Methodist Church in New York and resident of Washington, began her human and civil rights work on the national level in the 1930s. A UMNS 1999 file photo by John C. Goodwin.

Dorothy Height

Height marched at major civil rights rallies, sat onstage with King when he delivered his famous "I have a dream" speech, and was president of the National Council for Negro Women for more than 40 years.

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The Rev. Gil Caldwell marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Rev. Gil Caldwell

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell was a young seminarian when he met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Boston University. He spent time with the civil rights leader as part of an effort to support public schools in the area.

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In a jail cell with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Bishop Melvin Talbert learned life lessons about forgiveness. File photo by Ronny Perry, United Methodist Communications.

Bishop Melvin Talbert

Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert was a 25-year-old seminary student caught up in the civil rights movement when he landed in a jail cell with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960. King’s commitment to nonviolence and to seeing all humans as brothers and sisters changed Talbert.

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United Methodist Bishop Felton May was a local pastor in Chicago and served as master of ceremonies when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to speak on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Bishop Felton May

Bishop Felton May was a local pastor in Chicago and served as master of ceremonies when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to speak on behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery's Ninety Years Birthday Celebration at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, October 9, 2011 included a birthday song by Stevie Wonder.  Next to Rev. Lowery is his wife of 60 years, Evelyn Lowery. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery

As president of the ministerial alliance in Mobile, Lowery received an offering from all the churches in the city to support the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott that began in December 1955 under King’s leadership. In 1957, he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King and served as president and chief executive officer from 1977 to 1998.

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Bishop James Samuel Thomas met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1955, when King was on his way to speak at Tennessee State University in Nashville. Later, both men addressed the 1965 Methodist Youth Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Bishop James Thomas

Bishop James Samuel Thomas met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1955, when King was on his way to speak at Tennessee State University in Nashville. Later, both men addressed the 1965 Methodist Youth Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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United Methodist pastor Victor Cyrus-Franklin was first introduced to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a young age. His family made an effort to celebrate and remember the civil rights champion's life every year.

Victor Cyrus-Franklin

United Methodist pastor Victor Cyrus-Franklin was first introduced to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a young age. His family made an effort to celebrate and remember the civil rights champion's life every year.

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