January 22, 2013

Positivity: Martin Luther King was Christ-inspired, says head Knight of Peter Claver

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Mobile, Alabama:

Jan 20, 2013 / 04:01 pm

Martin Luther King Day is a time to promote racial harmony in America and honor the slain civil rights leader who was “inspired by the teachings of Christ,” says the head of the Knights of Peter Claver.

“Considering that so many ‘church-going folks’ were supporting segregation and Jim Crow laws during the civil rights movement, it is wonderful that King dedicated his life to employing Christ’s teachings to resist and counter the very social sins of prejudice, racial discrimination and segregation,” Supreme Knight F. DeKarlos Blackmon told CNA Jan. 18.

He said Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. a Baptist minister, was “a man of faith and deep conviction” who studied Catholic theology and was “particularly impressed” with St. Augustine.

King’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” cited St. Augustine’s saying “An unjust law is no law at all.”

Since 2010, Blackmon has headed the Knights of Peter Claver, a New Orleans-based Catholic fraternal order present in about 39 states and in South America. It takes as its model the Spanish Jesuit priest St. Peter Claver, who ministered to slaves in Colombia in the 1600s. Its membership is significantly African-American but the order is open to all practicing Catholics without regard to race or ethnicity.

The organization was founded in Mobile, Ala. in 1909 by four priests of the Josephite Fathers and three Catholic laymen to serve African-Americans and other racial minorities. Its founders were concerned the Catholic Church would lose black individuals to fraternal and secular organizations, at a time when local racism kept many out of the Knights of Columbus.

The order has six divisions: the Ladies of Peter Claver, two separate junior divisions for young men and young women, the Fourth Degree Knights and the Fourth Degree Ladies of Grace.

The Knights of Peter Claver and the Ladies Auxiliary opposed segregation and worked to transform how communities and cities thought about race, equality and justice, Blackmon said. They worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League.

The order’s leadership and members were “intimately involved” in the civil rights movement. Civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud, a national secretary and national advocate of the order, worked with future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to help overturn legal segregation.

The now demolished Claver Building in New Orleans, which was the Knights’ headquarters from 1951 to 1974, hosted early meetings “that ultimately launched the civil rights movement,” Blackmon added. …

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