Pealing Bells to Mark 50 Years Since MLK’s Rousing Speech

Pealing Bells to Mark 50 Years Since MLK’s Rousing Speech

By Larry Copeland
c. 2013 USA Today

August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have Dream Speech” (Photo Credit: RNS File Photo)

ATLANTA (RNS) The King Center is urging communities around the world to participate in a bell-ringing ceremony next month to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

King Center officials say they have reached out to all 50 governors and to cities across the globe asking them to participate in the bell ringing at 3 p.m. ET on Aug. 28, or at 3 p.m. in their respective time zones.

“My father concluded his great speech with a call to ‘let freedom ring,’ and that is a challenge we will meet with a magnificent display of brotherhood and sisterhood in symbolic bell-ringing at places of worship, schools and other venues where bells are available from coast to coast and from continent to continent,” said Bernice King, King’s daughter and CEO of the King Center.

The King Center and the 50th Anniversary Coalition will host a seven-day celebration in the nation’s capital of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. King’s riveting speech was the keynote event of that march.

The bell ringing is planned as a way to allow those who can’t make the trip to Washington to participate in the celebration, according to the King Center.

On Aug. 28, 1963, King ended his speech with a call to “let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire…from the mighty mountains of New York…from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania…from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado…from the curvaceous slopes of California…from Stone Mountain of Georgia… from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee…and from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.”

Bernice King asked that participating communities come up with diverse commemorative programs that “bring people together across cultural and political lines to celebrate the common humanity in creative and uplifting ways in the spirit of the dream.”

Bell-ringing ceremonies are currently planned in communities such as Concord, N.H.; Allentown, Pa.; Lutry, Switzerland; and Tokyo, the center says.

The King Center is asking that communities wishing to participate submit a brief description of their bell-ringing event to [email protected]

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the civil rights movement, “Parting the Waters,” Taylor Branch wrote that King departed from his prepared text and that much of the speech’s greatness was extemporaneous.

“More than his words, the timbre of his voice projected him across the racial divide and planted him as a new founding father,” Branch wrote. “It was a fitting joke on the races that he achieved such statesmanship by setting aside his lofty text to let loose and jam, as he did regularly from two hundred podiums a year.”

(Larry Copeland writes for USA Today.)

Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Kenyan Lawyer on Quixotic Quest to Nullify Trial of Jesus

By Fredrick Nzwili

Dola Indidis, a Roman Catholic, is petitioning the International Court of Justice, based at The Hague, to nullify Jesus’ conviction and death sentence. (Photo Credit: Fredrick Nzwili)

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) The conviction of Jesus by Pontius Pilate may be the most famous court verdict ever — and perhaps the most consequential, since it led to Christ’s crucifixion and the founding of a global religion.

Now a Kenyan lawyer wants to overturn Pilate’s decision, though he wants to keep the faith that flowed from it.

“The selective and malicious prosecution (of Jesus) violated his human rights,” said Dola Indidis, a Roman Catholic who is petitioning the International Court of Justice, based at The Hague, to nullify Jesus’ conviction and death sentence.

Indidis, a former spokesman for the Kenyan judiciary, accuses Pilate, who was the Roman governor of Judea, of “judicial misconduct, abuse of office, bias and prejudice.”

That may well be the case, at least in the view of believers and many Bible scholars. But getting a court to rule on a 2,000-year-old case from an outlying province in a long-defunct empire will not be easy.

Indidis first brought his case before the Kenyan High Court in Nairobi in 2007, but the court refused to hear it, saying it lacked jurisdiction.

Now he is turning to the International Court of Justice, often referred to as the World Court, which is best known for ruling on territorial disputes between members of the United Nations.

Officials at The Hague would not confirm or deny that they have received a petition.

But Indidis seems undeterred and points to the example of Joan of Arc, the 15th-century saint who led the French to major victories against the English before she was captured and burned at the stake. A quarter-century after Joan’s death her conviction was overturned by a papal court, and in 1920 she was canonized.

Indidis’ petition has surprised Christian leaders in Kenya. The Rev. Maloba Wesonga, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, said the exercise was futile, at least from a theological point of view.

“As we know it, the trial had to happen,” said Wesonga. “We must understand that Jesus was not vulnerable and nobody can do justice to God.”

Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.