Today I am reminiscing about a dear friend who lived justice. A few years ago I attended a collective worship and memorial for my dear friend, the late Marion King Jackson, at the Sisters Chapel on the campus of Spelman College in Atlanta. The speaker was Dr. Vincent Harding.
My eyes teared up upon entering as I again saw photos of Marion as a teenager, Spelman graduate, and as a nurturing mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt. My heart pounded with tempered sorrow as I embraced her children, sister, and other family members or friends. We were so close that it felt that I knew most of the attendees in the Chapel.
Let me tell you about her legacy. Marion King Jackson grew up in Valdosta, Georgia in the early thirties of a segregated south. After graduating Spelman, she married Slater King and moved with her husband to Albany, Georgia. The Civil Rights Movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, spread to Dougherty county (Albany) and Marion and Slater stood front and center. They opened their home to the Freedom Fighters and marched with their firstborn child in the streets of the city. During one of those marches, a racist Sheriff in Camilla, Georgia kicked a pregnant Marion King in the stomach, and she later miscarried (Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch).
There is so much more I can share about this intelligent, non-violent woman that this posting could expand to at least five pages or more. I will add these tidbits though: She studied physical therapy and became one of the first black female certified physical therapist in Georgia, she later studied law and passed the Georgia bar, this icon became a Baha’i and tirelessly fought for unity in spite of her tragedy. After her husband Slater died, Marion still stood eloquently for justice and later married the late Emmanuel “Bo” Jackson, also prominent in the Albany Movement. I urge you to read the story in Parting the Waters and to read Hope and History (Vincent Harding) to remind yourself about the sacrifices made for freedom.
According to Dr. Harding, sacrifices are called for today. Healing is called for in the land right now.
He is issuing the call for social midwifes. He said, men and women “be a midwife” to birth new change in America. In his descriptive charge Sunday past, he vividly told us about the social ills which still exist and are present right around us. He spoke about the loving care given by a midwife and he closed with a plea to be like Marion King Jackson, Fannie Lou Hammer, Rosa Parks, Marion Wright Edleman, or Shirley Franklin.
Change the soiled diapers of despair, hold to your breast a grieving mother, nurse the struggling homeless man, woman, or child with compassion…be a social midwife, man or woman, who cares enough to change this world so that we all can “sit at the same table in loving brotherhood.”
Be a social midwife-let your legacy imprint the action of change.