Day 1 Confession
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go?” Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has revealed himself to us; let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord our God, or he will fall upon us with pestilence or sword.” But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their work? Get to your labors! Pharaoh continued, “Now they are more numerous than the people of the land and yet you want them to stop working!” That same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, as well as their supervisors, “You shall no longer make bricks, as before; let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously; do not diminish it, for they are lazy; that is why they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on them; then they will labor at it and pay no attention to deceptive words.”
-Exodus 5: 1-9
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!...
-Genesis 4: 8 – 10
Today we embark on a sacred journey, bound together by our Creator and a common vocation of working to bring Shalom into our world. As we prepare for what our minds, hearts, and bodies will encounter today we remember the plight of Moses who went to Pharaoh and demanded that he liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. After this first encounter between Moses and Pharaoh, the people experience no relief, only more brutal work and scrutiny from taskmasters. In our own country, we recognize and remember the ways in which scrutiny, judgment, and brutality have increased as oppressed, enslaved, and marginalized people have fought for justice. The story is as old as Hebrew scripture and yet as fresh as yesterday’s Facebook feed. Standing in the tension of past and present we often ask ourselves: How could this be?
As spiritual pilgrims we are attune to what is in the ground as we move our feet – step by step – from holy place to holy place. Standing on the same dirt, looking at the same trees, remembering those who have gone before us, certainly we experience the words of God spoken to Cain: “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out …from the ground!”
Marking the beginning of this spiritual journey, consider the following as a jumping off point for your own personal reflection.
Which words, images, or feelings do you resonate with in these pieces of scripture? Which make you uncomfortable?
What do you know of blood crying out from the ground?
How did this happen? How is this possible? How could this be? How did we get here as a people? How did you get here as an individual? What were the forces at play in your own history that led you to where you are today with your own racial awareness?
6:00 AM Depart from MPBC
10:45 – 11:25 AM Lunch
Subway | 250 Park Ave. W., NW | 0.2 mi
BajaFresh | 250 Park Ave. W., NW | 0.2 mi
Max’s Pizzeria | 300 Marietta St., NW | 0.3 mi
Atlanta Breakfast Club | 249 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. | 0.2 mi
11:30 – 1:00 PM National Center for Civil & Human Rights
100 Ivan Allen Blvd., NW
With exhibits that employ images, words, and sounds to help us remember our past, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights connects American civil rights movements to global human rights initiatives. We can expect to see Rolls Down Like Water: The American Civil Rights Movement, The Voice to the Voiceless: The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, and Spark of Conviction: The Global Human Rights Movement.
1:30 – 3:30 PM King Center: A National Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave. NE
During our two hours here, you are invited to visit the Historic Ebeneezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. was baptized and later ordained at 19 years old. In 1960, MLK, Jr. was named co-pastor of the church with his father, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. (a.k.a. Daddy King), a title he held until his death in 1968.
The Birth Home of MLK, Jr. is also a part of this National Historic Site. This is the home in which MLK, Jr. was born and lived the first 12 years of his life.
The Behold Monument sits in the International World Peace Rose Garden, which is also a part of this Historic Site. The sculpture was dedicated by Mrs. Corretta Scott King as a tribute to her late husband in 1990. The sculptor, Patrick Morelli, was inspired by the African ritual of lifting a newborn child to the heavens and reciting the words, “Behold the only thing greater than yourself.” He felt that King’s demonstrations of both moral courage and brotherly dignity in the midst of threats, insults, and ultimately death were reflected in this piece.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Corretta Scott King Crypt:
After his assassination in 1968, King’s body was brought back to Atlanta and placed in South-View Cemetery, which was founded by nine former slaves who were barred from white-only cemeteries. It is now the oldest not-for profit, African-American owned corporation in our country. Mrs. King opened the MLK, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in the basement of their home in June of 1968. In 1970, she had his body moved to a new tomb on a lot cleared east of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he had preached. The tomb is faced with Georgia marble, as a nod to King’s southern roots.
Over the years, the tomb has been changed as different quotations from King’s legacy have been incorporated into the monument. In 1977 an eternal flame was added to symbolize the continuing effort to realize King’s dream of “Beloved Community” which is also recognized as shalom: wholeness, justice, peace, and equality for all of humankind. In 2006, Corretta Scott King died and was reunited with her husband in her final resting place after nearly 40 years of separation. On her tomb, the following scripture from Corinthians is engraved: “And now abide Faith, Hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.”
3:30 PM Board the Bus
Time change. Set clocks back 1 hour.
4:45 – 5:30 PM Driving Tour of Tuskegee
Tuskegee, the home place of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington, was founded in 1833, after the Creek Native American tribes were removed and displaced to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. It was soon named county seat of Macon County, Alabama. Before the Civil War, the area was mostly used as a cotton plantation, dependent upon the free labor of African-American slaves. After the Civil War, many freedmen continued to work on plantations in the rural area. In 1881 the Tuskegee Normal School (Now Tuskegee University, an Historically Black College) was founded and it’s director, Booker T. Washington developed a national reputation and network to support the education of freedmen and their children. With the goals of training teachers for the segregated school system and training freedmen for self-sufficiency, Tuskegee soon became a national symbol that African Americans could succeed when given the opportunity.
From 1932 to 1972, the school was also the site of the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study which was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service. The study violated a number of ethical norms related to healthcare and participants who are involved in clinical studies, including providers failing to inform patients that they were infected with syphilis, failing to explain treatment options after those became approved, and failed to obtain patient consent. This led to radical reform of U.S. law regarding such studies.
The famous Tuskegee Airmen were also trained at Tuskegee University and Morton Airfield. Designated in 1939 as one of the few places where African-Americans could be trained as civilian pilots, Tuskegee’s reputation for training some of our nations best pilots was given a special boost when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took to the skies with a black flight instructor and publically stated that she enjoyed the experience. Over 992 Army Air Corps pilots were trained in Tuskegee, but the Airmen title has come to include 17,000 support personnel including mechanics, cooks, electricians, and instructors who all had their hand in the making of this radical success. The pilots were excellent at shooting down enemy aircraft and built an incredible reputation as escorts, never losing a bomber.
5:30 PM Depart for Montgomery
6:30 – 8:00 PM Martha’s Restaurant
Martha Hawkins was the 10th of 12 children in her family. Although they never had much money, Martha’s mother always found a way to turn some home-grown vegetables into a delicious meal that sustained not only her own family but anyone who was hungry. Despite her economic situation and the onset of a severe mental illness, Martha pursued her dream, stepped out on faith, and opened a restaurant. Employing the values and skills that her mother instilled in her, Martha’s restaurant grew to become nationally known as a fixture in the culinary life of Montgomery. Martha only hires folks who are down on their luck, just as she was when she trusted in God to turn her life around. Martha has proven many times that keeping the faith makes the difference between failure and success.
8:15 PM Check In at Courtyard by Marriott
The object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation – to get away from it all. To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life. Nothing matters now but this adventure.
-Huston Smith, (Foreword in, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seekers Guide to Making Travel Sacred)
A pilgrimage is a journey of sacred and spiritual significance, often involving travel to a holy site. In the Christian tradition, pilgrimages often included sites from Jesus’ life, including those where he was born and crucified.
While we are not traveling abroad or visiting sites where Jesus once stood; we will certainly be standing on holy ground. As we take our bodies into these historic spaces that transcend time our prayer is that we may be remember all those who have gone before us. In partnership with one another, may we also receive a shared calling and a spiritual awakening.
We will soon discover that this trip is neither designed for recreation, nor rest. Instead the journey that we embark upon today is one of great discomfort and unrest. We, the pilgrims, do not know what God has in store for us; but we can rest assured that we have been called here to walk this road and share this journey together.
May God be with us all along the way.
May 22 - 26, 2017
The week of May 22-26 pilgrims from Myers Park Baptist, Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, and the greater Charlotte community will journey together through the Deep South, visiting museums, memorials, and other significant places of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life.
The pilgrimage is the culmination of a year-long series entitled “Awakening to Racial Injustice,” attended by members of both congregations and the broader community. While the Awakening to Racial Injustice series has been going on, our city has experienced significant unrest, as we’ve struggled to come to terms with the racial realities of our city. The untimely and unnecessary deaths of Justin Carr and Keith Scott have been ever present in our minds as we have engaged in this season of learning and growing together. As part of this learning, we've examined national and local data, historical exclusion, and mass incarceration (to name a few). We have learned definitions of race, and how race functions in our society. We learned how U.S. policies can benefit some demographics while harming others. Environmental racism, implicit bias, and white privilege were other topics presented by professionals ranging from community organizers, to religious leaders, to university professors. We established small groups, called “covenant groups,” to encourage conversation across lines of difference. Most importantly, we've been awakened to the systemic oppression that many of our sisters and brothers encounter each day.
As we walk in the footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement, our hope is to learn together, sing together, pray together, and return together as a diverse and yet unified group that is renewed in our commitment to racial justice. Together, we will remember our past and forge a new way forward, together.
Throughout our journey, we will post stories from the road on this site. Subscribe below and stay tuned for more updates and pictures. You can also follow us on social media using the hashtags #AwakenDeepSouth and #DeepSouthPilgrim. Updates will also be posted to our Facebook account @Myers Park Baptist.
Looking forward to sharing the journey with you!
The Awakening Series seeks to engage the intersections of culture and faith, particularly around areas of injustice and moral responsibility. Through faith formation opportunities that address issues of our daily lives, we are working to create shalom (wholeness, equity, justice, and peace) for all.