Dr. Paul Simpson Duke shared this story in an address entitled, Those Who Sow in Tears, to the First Baptist Church, Ann Arbor:
In Montgomery, Alabama, outside the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a Civil Rights Memorial (pictured).
It was designed by Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. The Civil Rights Memorial is a huge circular table of black granite. Into the stone are carved dates, places, and events that define the civil rights struggle and the names of many who were killed.
On the wall above the stone are the words from Amos often quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr., with just the first word altered: “Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness liked a mighty stream.” Across the stone table a sheet of water is constantly moving over these names and dates. You can touch the water as it slowly washes over the names on the stone, and you hear it always flowing.
On the day the monument opened, one of those who came was the mother of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy from Chicago brutally murdered in Mississippi. As she touched her son’s name on the stone beneath the moving water, she began to weep. Maya Lin was there and saw the grieving mother’s tears falling, mingling with the stream that washed across the stone.
“Restore our fortunes, Lord, like the watercourses of the Negeb” [says the Scriptures] And the tears of those who rightly grieve will swell the streams of the new life we long for. Justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Our tears mingled with God’s tears can help to make it so. Such waters can reshape even the hard stone of our history. And the deserts we have made can blossom by the grace of God into the great surprise of new life.
Source: Paul Simpson Duke, Those Who Sow in Tears, First Baptist Church, Ann Arbor, March 25, 2007.
Civil Rights Memorial, Alabama.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Civil Rights, Memorial.