Originally created 01/19/99

King service questions progress



If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, what would he say about America's progress?

The Rev. Floyd Rose, of Valdosta, Ga.-based Church at the Pine, has some suggestions.

The Rev. Rose was guest speaker at an Augusta service Monday honoring the slain civil rights leader. The event, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Memorial Observance Foundation of Augusta, took place at Thankful Baptist Church.

In a thundering voice, similar to Dr. King's, the Rev. Rose read what he called an "Imaginary Letter from Dr. King to America."

The Rev. Rose, simulating Dr. King, commended America for its progress in sending men to the moon, building buildings that kiss the sky and making extraordinary uses of communication.

"But America, understand that I am disturbed that your moral and spiritual progress lag behind your scientific progress," the Rev. Rose said. "It's true that you've learned to swim like the fish and can fly like birds, but you haven't yet learned how to walk on the earth as brothers."

Children, he said, can speak French and German but haven't learned to speak to each other.

He said youth of America in the 1970s adopted immoral ethics and minimized sin with slogans like "do your own thing," and "let it all hang out."

"Everything that's good to you is not always good for you," the Rev. Rose said.

To black people, the Rev. Rose said Dr. King would say: "I know it's not easy when you have your legs cut from under your body, then are condemned because you can't walk.

"It's time for you to rise up and stand for what America means," the Rev. Rose said. "Liberty and justice for all."

And even as great as he was, Dr. King would still be humble, the Rev. Rose said.

"I was a man who saw wrong and tried to right it," he said. "A man who saw hate and tried to love it. A man who saw confusion and tried to give it peace. And through it all, I learned to trust in Jesus. I learned to trust in God."

Sandi Bryant described the Rev. Rose as a dynamic speaker.

"I think he captured what Dr. King would say today," she said, "which is basically, we've come a long way and have a ways to go."

The Rev. Rose said it was an honor for him to speak at the event. The theme was The Dream: Uniting God's People in Service for the Millennium.

"To me and my family, Dr. King represented the highest and best America had to offer," the Rev. Rose said.

Faith Johnson can be reached at (706) 823-3765 or faithj@augustachronicle.com.