Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as the pre-eminent leader of the civil-rights movement because of his Christ-like approach to the struggle and would likely have focused more time on preaching the gospel than remaining politically active had he lived a full life, according to Council Nedd II, bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church and founding member of the Project 21 black leadership network.
Bishop Nedd also believes King would have remained more conservative than many of his contemporaries turned out to be and would be both amazed at the racial progress in America and distressed at how the issue is exploited for political advantage.
King rose to prominence during the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott that followed the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Nedd told WND King’s biblical approach to segregation and discrimination set him apart from other possible leaders.
“His approach was so radically different than what everybody else in the black community was talking about at that time, and it was the message on nonviolence. He was a Christian pastor, a follower of Jesus Christ, and he believed in turning the other cheek. And he believed that you could meet this resistance by not resisting at all. It had a profound impact on American society,” Nedd said. “They’re being met with violence. There’s water hoses, dogs and all sorts of beatings and lynchings and everything, and he was saying, ‘Let’s just keep marching for what we want to march for and we’re going to do it in a nonviolent manner. It got America’s attention, and it got the world’s attention.”
Listen to WND’s interview with Bishop Nedd below:
While racial issues persist today, Nedd is confident King would be very pleased with the racial progress made in the years since his death.
"I think he would say that a major victory had been accomplished. If you think about it, the world that he lived in and the world he knew was a very segregated America. At the end of his life, there were riots in the street. They were turning water hoses and dogs on children in parts of this country and because of the advent of television, people were able to see it and were rightly appalled by what they saw," Nedd explained.
"So, it's a very different world than the one he lived in. There's equality in the eyes of the law. Segregation is legally banished from the land, and black Americans have opportunities that have never been seen at any other point in U.S. history."
Bishop Nedd believes that if King had lived many more years, he would have been fairly conservative and would have spent more time in the pulpit than marching for causes.
"He comes from the same era as my father, so I think he would probably be a fairly conservative individual. I think that he would still be involved in pastoral ministry or probably retired from it by this point. He was first and foremost a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't think he was necessarily interested in the political pandering that you see people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do. He was on a mission, and the mission was to march for civil rights. But he never gave up his calling as a minister of the gospel, and his ministry was evident in his approach that he took to try to achieve civil rights for all Americans," he said.
When asked why King would be somewhat conservative when other figures from that era, like Jackson, Rev. Joseph Lowery and John Lewis charted a more liberal course, Nedd said he wasn't sure why other leaders went in that direction, but he said people should distinguish among those figures, especially Lewis and Jackson.
"I'd put John Lewis is a slightly different category because he is a committed individual to what he's doing. I don't know how much political pandering he necessarily does, but in my opinion he's given a certain amount of grace because of what he physically endured on the same marches with Dr. King," Nedd said.
"Jesse Jackson has always been a political figure. He's always sought out the media and whatever gets him to that goal, seemingly, he's willing to do, whether it's smearing blood on himself or whatever it is," he said.
In the past several years, homosexual activists have contended that their efforts to pursue gay rights and even same-sex marriage are simply an extension of the civil-rights movement. Nedd is having none of that.
"Gay is not the new black. There are lots of people who lived and died and suffered merely because of race. Any individual who happens to be homosexual, they're already covered under the law because of their color, because of their sexuality, because of various other things. It's not a separate classification and personally I'm offended by it. I'm offended by the politicians who caved on the issue, and I'm offended by pastors who sold out on the issue and decided, 'You know what, I don't really care what the Bible says. The black president wants me to support this so I'm going to support this. It's absurd," said Nedd, who also suggested King would be disappointed in Obama's approach to the presidency.
"That's one of the real tragedies. Here we are in America. We've got the first black president and everybody was sort of talking about the end of racism, etc., and essentially what Obama has done is put on the Jesse Jackson cloak and he's just pandering on issues of race. He's not showing true leadership," Nedd said.
"He's implemented or tried to implement a number of failed policies and when it didn't work out, he pulls the race card," he said. "I just that's inappropriate and I think it's just tacky."