This week, as we lead up to the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., several writers and friends from the PNW have joined together to share their personal letters to King in the style of Bishop Woodie W. White. White annually pens his “Dear Martin” pieces that are deep reflections on the state of race relations in the US. For our writers, these short messages reflect the impact that MLK has had on each of their lives and ministry.

In today’s installment, seminary student Nico Romeijn-Stout speaks on our lack of progress due to modern-day segregation with equality for today’s generation still a dream – yet to be realized.

Dear Dr. King,

It has been half a century since some of the most significant triumphs of the civil rights movement, yet I am sad to say that there are days even now when it seems there has been no progress. We are greeted each and every day these past months by news that our nation is still plagued by racially motivated violence, and still perpetuates systems of injustice that judge people by the color of their skin and the zip codes of their homes.

If you were here today, you would look at a country in which racial segregation may not be legal, but is still the de facto norm. Our children do not grow up in racially integrated neighborhoods or schools. Instead, “white-flight,” suburban sprawl, and private schools have helped to ensure that privileged children grow up in “good” neighborhoods and schools. And it pains me to say that even we in the church cannot seem to break down these barriers, as Sunday mornings remain one of the most segregated times for our country.

Perhaps the most tragic sign of our lack of progress lies in similarities between the dreams of those who marched with you — to the dreams of those who march today in cities and towns across this nation. Dreams for children to play together, learn together, and sit together at the table of sisterhood and brotherhood. Dreams that votes by disenfranchised people will not be difficult to cast and count, just as votes by people of privilege. And dreams that come Sunday our churches represent the true diversity of their communities.

I pray that when we bid you a happy birthday next year, we can do so with happier news of further progress towards the realization of dreams too long deferred.

Nico Romeijn-Stout is a student at the Boston School of Theology
and is a member of The Pacific Northwest Conference.


  1. Nico Romejin-Stout: Great letter! I do disagree there has been no progress. I strongly agree that there has not been near enough progress and more needs to be done, but I have seen great progress that took a man and a woman, and their families to stand and say no more, with terrible sacrifice , to even get where we are today. More needs to be done and I believe it starts at home. Parents must model and raise their children to love and respect everyone irregardless of color, creed, religion, sexual orientation or politics. We must separate the actions of some people in all cultures, from the color of their skin or culture. There are people doing bad things everywhere. Their actions must be dealt with on a fair and just way across the board instead of blaming the culture they came from. We are ALL children of God, that makes us brothers and sisters. It must be comfortable for people to go from place to place, and church to church without having to worry about being welcome. We must work toward making our church and neighborhoods the place everyone wants to go to make our dream come true. As long as I have friends, gay, or of different color, and or different backgrounds asking me if my church is a place they can come and be welcome and safe, I know we are not there yet. The news reports and newspapers surely tell us we have a long way to go. It starts with me.

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