Fifty years after the April 12, 1963, Good Friday arrest of Martin Luther King in Birmingham, Alabama—where he famously penned, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”—Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) commemorated the half-century anniversary of a momentous year in the American Civil Rights movement.
Some of the world’s most renowned and influential thought leaders on Dr. King’s work joined internationally-recognized theologians and social justice advocates to examine the legacy of Dr. King’s work, its reverberations around the world, and how it continues to influence and shape today’s churches and communities.
Presenters and panelists included Allan Aubrey Boesak, theologian, founder of South Africa’s United Democratic Front, and visiting professor at CTS; Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and a prolific writer on Old Testament theology; Rufus Burrow, Jr., Indiana Professor of Christian Thought and Professor of Theological Social Ethics at CTS; and Frank Anthony Thomas, retired senior pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, author, faculty member at CTS and leader of a new institute at CTS dedicated to preaching and worship.
Community members, church leaders and students gathered in CTS’s Shelton Auditorium to view a film of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Following the screening, Dr. Rufus Burrow led a panel conversation regarding the speech, the controversies it sparked and the social momentum it generated.
An international perspective was shared by Allan Aubrey Boesak, as he led the panel in a conversation about how Dr. King’s dream continues to be interpreted, sought and lived out around the world. The day’s discussion concluded with an exploration on living the “Gospel of Liberation” and lessons for preaching.
CTS student Raenisha Karim and Min. Sheila Spencer delivered a spoken word reading titled, “Martin’s Voice” honoring Dr. King’s legacy. Lending a musical aspect to the event, musicians and attendees celebrated with a selection of songs evocative of the liberation spirit in America and around the world.
To kick off the event, CTS, SALT and WFYI television created a provocative short film that is available at no charge and can be downloaded in an HD quality QuickTime movie. (This is a large file meant to download to your computer. It may take a few minutes depending on your connection. To view the film without downloading, please play the video below.)
CDs of The Dream Today are available for $30 (entire session) from the Office of Lifelong Theological Education at CTS, or contact Jen Walker to make a purchase. Individual session CDs are available for $6 and are as follows:
Session 1: The Dream in Context, Dr. Rufus Burrow, Jr. remarks with panel conversation led by CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton including panelists Dr. Burrow, Dr. Boesak, Dr. Brueggemann, and Dr. Thomas
Session 2: The Dream Around the World: Dr. Allan Boesak and conversation with panel
Session 3: The Dream Today: Dr. Brueggemann and Dr. Thomas with panel conversation