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. He identified with Dr. King as a leader and a preacher.
Cyrus-Franklin also reminds us that the issues MLK addressed are still with us today.
Narrator: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for equality for all. Many United Methodists valued his vision and his leadership. Victor Cyrus-Franklin describes his impact on him and others.
Victor Cyrus-Franklin: We look back 50 years ago and say, “Of course there should be voting rights for all. I don’t know why we needed to march about that to begin with. Of course there should be jobs available. Of course women should vote." So we look back and wonder why there was a need for it. But just as there were forces then that felt threatened by them, there are forces here today. We can learn from what happened then to help us learn what we need to do now. There’s still a movement for those who’ve been pushed to the margins to claim their voice and create the power to change the world for the better. Even though Dr. King was a Ph.D., a Nobel Prize winner, he still very much identified with those who many of us in society reject. He was very clear that’s who Jesus was. In order to be a follower of Jesus, you have to not just work for but stand with those folks in Nazareth. Information is more accessible than it ever has been, yet we still know less and less about him. I don’t think we know who King is. I think we rely on one to two speeches and then even very short blurbs or soundbytes or phrases from those. There are so many published volumes of not only his speeches and lectures, but even works that he’s written himself, and they’re available online. I even think Dr. King would be concerned about the ways that we lift his name up and neglect to affirm the others who struggled and sacrificed for the freedoms that we’re still preserving and fighting for today. As we celebrate Dr. King, we remember and celebrate all of them because that helps us to see how today there’s not one charismatic leader who can get us to the promised land, but we together, working together, we can get there.
Victor Cyrus-Franklin identified with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a preacher and went on to pursue a Master of Divinity degree at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He currently serves as an assistant pastor at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles.
View all the videos of United Methodists who walked with Martin Luther King Jr. and share his dream.
Media contact is Joe Iovino.
This video was first posted in May, 2015.