Today, we celebrate 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, spoken word poet T. Alex Shanks expresses to King the need for a voice to rise — to bring hope to the hopeless.

Dear Dr. King,

I wish we had your voice.

I hear the faint echoes as your words have been passed down through time, but I fear it has lost its clarity. When I look at the world I live in, the only thing clear to me is we’ve lost your voice. No one has risen to fill the silence left by your passing and now we’re searching. We’re searching for the right response. When faced with police brutality, we’re searching. When faced with the right to marry who we love even when they are of the same-sex, we’re searching. When faced with the right of all people to work and live without an immediate threat to their safety regardless of their gender identity, we’re searching.

I believe we need a voice. Not just any voice; a Christian voice. One that will bring clarity to a world whose focus is no longer on love and justice, one that will bring hope to the valleys of discrimination and intolerance where we still live, one that will carry peace and understanding to all for the sake of God’s children. We need a voice to which we’re willing to listen. I wish we had your voice because we still so desperately need it.

Who will be that voice? Who will bring clarity to a world without proper focus? My only prayer is that it comes from amongst God’s community, from the Church.

T. Alex Shanks

T. Alex Shanks is a spoken word poet living in Columbus, Ohio.

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