News Release: People

Jan. 14,  2009

Candler's Bishop-in-Residence Writes Letter of Joy to MLK

United Methodist Bishop Woodie W. White, bishop-in-residence at Emory's Candler School of Theology, has written his annual "birthday letter" to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with "joy beyond description." White, who served as first chief executive of the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, has written the annual letter to King about the progress of racial equality in America since 1976.

Read the full text of Bishop White's Letter to MLK

The election of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States, "the first black American to be so elected," has produced a moment of "utter joy," wrote White. "Even as I write, it is difficult to contain the joy or hold back the tears. You would understand."

Recalling the events that led to this moment in history, White wrote that "it seems only yesterday that black people were battling for the opportunity to vote. Many died seeking that right. State by state, it eventually changed. But scarcely anyone glimpsed a future when a black man would be elected president of the nation."

White also called for the nation to "still challenge every expression of injustice, bigotry and racism in individuals and institutions."  He ended the letter by declaring, "In so many ways, Martin, we are a better nation, a better people than you left. Not perfect, but better. And in some ways, the nation is moving beyond The Dream!"

Related Information

Full text of Bishop White's letter

Video interview with Bishop White

Faculty profile of Bishop White

King Week at Emory events

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