Journalist Marc Lamont Hill Talks Radical Activism at MLK Service

Journalist, author and activist, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill spoke at St. Sabina Church on Sunday for their annual MLK service. The Temple University professor and host of BET News and the Coffee and Books podcast delivered an electrifying message honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In his message, he highlighted the necessity of telling the truth about Martin Luther King Jr’s work, activism, and legacy. “Our work to honor King is an act of resistance…You will not kill his legacy the way you killed his body. We will remember him and remember him properly.,” he proclaimed before the south side audience. We fight for his memory, he continued. Balking at the idea of MLK Day as a “Day of Service,” Dr. Hill stated the most important way to honor Dr. King is through radical action and organizing.

“This country may have grown old, but it has not grown up.”

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill reminded the audience that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a passive figure in the civil rights movement but a preacher, organizer, political strategist, and radical theorist whose legacy has often been whitewashed by the very ones who would have vehemently opposed Dr. King’s work in the 60s. Addressing the racism, unrest, inequality, and injustice in this country,  Dr. Hill said Radical dreaming, listening, and engaging in courageous action are the keys to continuing the legacy of Dr. King.

Marc Lamont Hill Chicago DefenderRadical Dreaming

Dr. Hill spoke about “the dream” of a better America as described by Dr. King. Pressing the need for Black people to release their imaginations and dream radically, he encouraged parishioners to cease being held captive by the moments or the events of racism and inequality in this country. “We don’t have to be prisoners of the moment or the event,” Dr. Hill said. “We can imagine a new world. A new heaven and a new earth. A new possibility. We do not have to be prisoners to drugs, mass incarceration, imperial wars, rape culture, patriarchy. We can imagine something else. We can believe in something different.”

We Must Challenge America to Listen to Itself

The award-winning journalist said that one of the greatest things Dr. King did during his lifetime was remind America who they really are. One of Dr. King’s most popular and often quoted speeches is the “I Have a Dream Speech,” however Dr. Hill reminded the audience that the March on Washington was never about the speech but was about freedom and jobs.

“…that speech is not about the dream. It is about broken promises.  100 years after the Emancipation proclamation King is saying, America you promised. He’s showing the contradictions between who America claims to be versus who they really are.”

In the spirit of the writers, truth-tellers, and freedom fighters before us, Dr. Hill implored the St. Sabina audience to remember the importance of listening to one another to work together towards a common goal.

“MLK Day is not a Day of Service, It’s a day of “Radical and Courageous Action”

“The biggest problem in the world today is that there are too many people who don’t do anything.”  Dr. Hill said we must stand out and speak out in Dr. King’s tradition. Pressing the public to act, do something, and organize, he reminded the enthusiastic crowd at St. Sabina that getting involved in organizations is a necessity to impact change. He also stressed that getting involved in organizations requires individuals to let go of their egos and need to lead or run organizations but to also allow themselves to be led and lend their gifts, time, and talents to organizations that are doing the work to create a more equitable and just society.

“At what point do we let go of the ego? At what point do we let go of the need to be in charge? At what point do we put justice in front of our own needs? We got to do something different.”

Senior Pastor, Rev. Michael L. Pfleger issued a call to action during the MLK service to parishioners to contact their political leaders to support The Freedom to Vote Act, The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Filibuster Reform, and the passing of common-sense gun laws.

To hear Dr. Marc Lamont Hill’s MLK Message at St. Sabina in its entirety click here.

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