Recapturing King’s Prophetic Witness in the Trump Era: Larycia Hawkins Delivers Guest Lecture

Larycia Hawkins, "The Mountaintop as the Valley of the Shadow", Bearing the Cross in the Age of Donald J. TrumpBearing the Cross as Creative Protest

On November 1, Larycia Hawkins delivered a guest lecture, entitled “Bearing the Cross in the Age of Donald J. Trump: The Example of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement.”

Utilizing the prophetic guidance of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to address the politics of Trump’s America, Hawkins breaks down the prerequisites of cross bearing to body work, soul work, and foot work, calling us all to embodied solidarity and the civil courage to pursue a committed activism. She moves on to discuss the nature of cross bearing through the witness of MLK in his quest to save the society he was calling to truth. Finishing with a discussion on the politics of cross bearing, Hawkins argues King is pointing us toward recapturing a prophetic vision of human dignity, where the perspective of the oppressed is heard and the moment for justice is always recognized as now.

In her closing reflection on King’s thoughts for these days, Hawkins compels us all to engage in ways that are prophetic and pragmatic and continue to have hope: 

So what would MLK say to Trump? I think he would say several things… I think he would say you shall know them by their fruits and ask the 81% of white evangelicals who voted for him, where is the fruit? I think he would warn us about false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing. I think he would say, you are your brother and sister’s keeper, and their blood cries out to you from the ground. Do you see it?…

I think he would say to the Congress of the United States, you call yourselves righteous, but the prophet Isaiah says righteousness and justice go hand in hand and that in fact, kingdoms and cities will be redeemed by justice. Nevertheless, your princes are rebels and companions of thieves.

I think he would say to most of us in this room, how are you complicit in the vast inequality that masquerades as the truth of the American dream?… He would ask us how open the eyes of our hearts are.

He would ask President Trump to get caught up in a vortex of love. Heather Heyer’s father said at her funeral, ‘It didn’t matter who you were or where you were from. If she loved you, you were stuck.’ He would ask President Trump, who do you love? What do you love? And he would ask us the same question.”

Listen to the entire lecture through its resource page here.

Larycia A. Hawkins is the Abd el-Kader Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. She is the recipient of many honors, such as the Bridge Builder Award from The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (MI) and the Dr. Betty Shabazz Award from Women in Islam Inc. (NY). Dr. Hawkins’ recent publications include “Prophetic and Priestly: The Politics of a Black Catholic Parish” (2015) and “Jesus and Justice: The Moral Framing of the Black Agenda” (2015). Her research engages the intersections of race/ethnicity, religion, and politics. Her writing, speaking, teaching, and scholarship are squarely animated by a conviction that political science should be relevant to the real world.

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