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Dr. Martin Luther King (1.15.2023)

On Thursday, March 14, 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Grosse Pointe South High School in an affluent Detroit, Michigan suburb. The title of his talk was “The Other America.”  It also said he gave the same title On April 14, 1967, at Stanford University. It is interesting that he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.  One was about a year before he died, and the other less than a month.  Unfortunately, if Dr. King were still alive, he could very well give the same speech again today, some things are better, some are worse, and some our exactly the same.  

We have come out of a CoVid-19 pandemic that lasted at least two to three years.  We have seen the economy go through several changes, home ownership has taken a hit with interest rates and prices changing regularly.  Family wealth has gone up for some and down for others at the same time. Traffic stops, housing discrimination, incarceration, school issues all prove that there is really two Americas.  Some that are doing well, and the others that are still struggling. I don’t believe it is limited to one race over the other, yet there is no question that some races seem more likely to be on the wrong side of the ledger.  

As a new Suff. Bishop for our church organization, I have been asked to minister in other countries.  On my recent trips to Brazil and South Africa I have been made to believe that it is not limited to America, but maybe we are living in two different worlds.  

It’s more than fifty years later, the United States, (and maybe the world), is still divided into two Americas and those who question this division are still made to feel crazy. During the Black Lives Matter Marches, which was reminiscent of the 1960s African American Civil Rights movement which challenged racist policing. We know that the overwhelming number of police our doing a great job, and should be thanked, held in prayer, honored, paid a great wage for the great sacrifices they make on a daily basis, but that does not mean that all are perfect.  The truth is in a broader sense, it is challenging all the racist policies that create two Americas. This effort can only succeed, as Dr. King insisted, if we discuss the “race problem” in the United States “very honestly.”  WE all know that all lives matter, red, yellow, black, and white.  Police lives matter, young and old, rich and poor, every life matters.  

Dr. King spoke that day and said, “I want to discuss the race problem tonight and I want to discuss it very honestly.  I still believe that freedom is the bonus you receive for telling the truth. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. And I do not see how we will ever solve the turbulent problem of race confronting our nation until there is an honest confrontation with it and a willing search for the truth and a willingness to admit the truth when we discover it.  And so, I want to use as a title for my lecture tonight, ‘The Other America.’   

Dr. King went on to say, “There are literally two Americas.  Every city in our country has this kind of dualism, this schizophrenia, split at so many parts, and so every city ends up being two cities rather than one. There are two Americas.” 

The speech continues, “One America is beautiful for situation. In this America, millions of people have the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality flowing before them. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America children grow up in the sunlight of opportunity.” 

Dr. King spoke of that day saying, “But there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this other America, thousands and thousands of people, men in particular walk the streets in search for jobs that do not exist. In this other America, millions of people are forced to live in vermin-filled, distressing housing conditions where they do not have the privilege of having wall-to-wall carpeting, but all too often, they end up with wall-to-wall rats and roaches. Almost forty percent of the Negro families of America live in sub-standard housing conditions. In this other America, thousands of young people are deprived of an opportunity to get an adequate education. Every year thousands finish high school reading at a seventh, eighth and sometimes ninth grade level. Not because they're dumb, not because they don't have the native intelligence, but because the schools are so inadequate, so over-crowded, so devoid of quality, so segregated if you will, that the best in these minds can never come out. Probably the most critical problem in the other America is the economic problem. There are so many other people in the other America who can never make ends meet because their incomes are far too low if they have incomes, and their jobs are so devoid of quality.  And so, in this other America, unemployment is a reality and under-employment is a reality.” 

The goal of this article is to honor Dr. King’s boldness in daring to bring to light the two Americas.  The only hope for our great country, is our willingness of good people to talk about hard subjects.   

I hope during this Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Holiday that you attend, support and be willing to talk about the hard subjects of our community. Bringing the hard subjects to light maybe painful but could also be helpful.  It’s beneficial if we can admit that everybody may not have the same life in the same community.  There may be a possibility of “Two Americas.”   


Darrell W. Cummings, 

Pastor of Bethlehem Temple, Wheeling, WV 

& Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly, Weirton, WV