January 30, 2009
Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel
Elizabeth, New Jersey
I am truly delighted to be invited to this extraordinary gathering of ACLC on its second day of meetings. More importantly, I am so delighted to have Dr. Lowery here with his wife and Reverend Fauntroy. You know, Dr. Lowery and I go way back. I met Dr. Lowery twenty-five years ago, when my father was unjustly imprisoned at Danbury prison in Connecticut. It was he, along with Dr. Abernathy and a group of American clergy like yourselves, who stood up against the injustices that the American government was putting upon my father, and said, “We must stand together in creating a religious freedom coalition and fight against this injustice. Be courageous; stand up for something!”
I was only a seventeen-year-old girl back then, but Dr. Lowery left an indelible mark on my life. He was an example for me of how I should live my life. I very much saw him and the civil rights movement as an inspiration for America that needs to be continued. I thought, how can I, as a woman, contribute to all the wonderful things that the civil rights movement has done and all the wonderful things my father has done in really trying to wake up America to its providential role of playing such a crucial role of influencing the world in the correct way?
When I was a freshman at Columbia University and I attended my first political science course, the professor got up at the podium and said to the class, “I know a lot of you worked hard to get here and I’m sure a lot of you have considered or thought about ‘what does power mean?’” He said to me and the rest of the class, “Power is the ability to influence.” I have thought about this oftentimes throughout my life. I have often thought, if Heavenly Father, our Heavenly Parent, has an incredible reason why America is so blessed, then isn’t it America’s role to exercise its power to properly influence the world to recognize God as our Heavenly Parent and to recognize each other (every races, every culture of the world) as belonging to one family? And for us to recognize that we must come together and honor our differences as well as our similarities so we can realize that what we are doing, no matter where we come from, is weaving the tapestry of life that makes us beautiful as God’s children?
So twenty-five years ago, when I walked arm in arm down Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, with Dr. Lowery, he said something to me that has stayed with me to this day and I often say to my children. He said, “In Jin, God works in mysterious ways. Never forget that.” I’ve often thought about how God has mysteriously worked in my life, in my father’s life, in Dr. Lowery’s life, in Reverend Fauntroy’s life, in Bishop Stallings’s life, in Bishop Edwards’s life. I’ve also thought, How can I, as a child of God, give my life for the betterment of world peace?
Then my Father asked me to take upon myself this new role in continuing my brother’s vision in emphasizing the importance of media, entertainment, and the arts to harness the power, if you will, to inspire young people, to raise up a group of young people. This is just like the way the civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Dr. Lowery, Dr. Abernathy, Dr. Fauntroy—and,from my point of view in a very special and quiet way, people like Rosa Parks, who in her quiet defiance and elegance strongly ignited the Montgomery bus boycott —inspired a whole generation to come, belong, work, and walk with the civil rights movement. It was women like Rosa Parks who inspired me in my life. It was elders like Martin Luther King, who, when he gave the speech “I Have a Dream,” taught me to dream. I began to dream about a world where my children would not have to be afraid to go to school because of school shootings, where my children as Americans would not be afraid to walk to the streets of Palestine or Israel because of suicide bombings, and where my children, as proud Asian-Americans, would be able to say, “I belong to this great nation of America.”
Ladies and Gentleman, coming from this incredible and historic election, we saw the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King realized when Senator Obama was inaugurated as the first African American president of the United States of America. The White House, which was built with the sweat, tears, and blood of African American slaves, welcomed the first child of your heritage to become something like the king of kings, starting from the servant of servants position, to lead this country of America into the next millennium. When I saw that my old friend, Dr. Lowery, had been hand-picked by our Heavenly Parent to grace the inauguration with the spirit of our Heavenly Parent by giving its benediction, I said to myself, “God works in mysterious ways.”
I said to Dr. Lowery, “You were the highlight of the evening,” and he so graciously said to me in the waiting room, “President Obama was the highlight.” Then I said, “But Dr. Lowery, may I say, President Obama was the entrée and you were the dessert!” For me, being a woman and a mother who enjoys cooking and baking for my children, it’s always the icing on the cake or the cherry on top of the sundae that makes that sundae worthwhile, and I felt that Dr. Lowery’s benediction was that cherry, or the icing on the cake, that made this last inauguration truly meaningful and profound.
So Dr. Lowery, I as a mother and a woman am approaching my role feeling that I’m not good enough and I have a lot to learn from all of you. I feel that God has given me an incredible opportunity to learn from such distinguished men and women in this room, and I look forward to many great years with you. But being a mother, I very much look forward to inspiring a new generation of young people just like the way Dr. Lowery and Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks captivated the dream, the inspiration, and the promise of the young people.
I hope that if we do our job, we as mothers and fathers, as brothers and sisters, can raise up a new generation of what I would like to call the “Generation of Peace” to basically say, “No more wars, no more violence, no more prejudice.” Let’s honor each other as children of God. Let’ honor our Heavenly Parent, and let’s all work together in making this world a world of peace, where on my last dying day I can say to myself, “I can go in peace,” because I know my children will be fine. I will not have to worry about suicide bombers and terrorism; I will not have to worry about any violence that is going to rob them of their right to life and of their right to have an ideal family, to be grandparents, to be great citizens of this country.
This is an incredible evening, in preparation of a great deal of festivities that are coming up on Saturday and Sunday. I know that many of you will be going to the Blessing, renewing your vows of matrimony. As someone who has walked down that road some years ago with this man that I call my husband, I’m not sure if many of you know that I didn’t really find it too exciting to be his handpicked bride. But I knew that, again, as Dr. Lowery said, “God works in mysterious ways,” and I knew God had a plan for me. I knew God had a plan as to why this man was supposed to be my eternal partner. As well-meaning as we all are when we first get married or get Blessed, life puts a lot of obstacles in our path. But the single thing that kept us together, that kept us inspired, and that kept us committed is the commitment that we made to God, our Heavenly Parent. I believe that this is the most important and best kept secret to a happy life. I hope and pray that your lives going forth from the Blessing will be blessed ones.
As the world comes to grasp onto the true olive branch, I know that my father’s vision for the world is to literally become one family. I look forward to my children becoming a part of you! I look forward to my children being blessed to a Muslim or a Jewish person. With all the interfaith work that my father is doing, the Blessing is an opportunity for unity on many different levels. To truly come together as one family, one spirit, and one flesh is a wonderful and beautiful thing to behold. So I congratulate those of you who will be attending the Blessing.
As you know, it’s also the 90th birthday of my father. This birthday in Korean tradition is a very important one. I know that my father has often spoken about leaving the physical world and often talked about the year 2013 as the year that he would leave, so he feels like he has to put his life in order. One of the most important things that he felt he needed to do on January 15th of this year was to crown our Heavenly Parent as the King of Kings before he retired. So the 90th birthday celebration will be a celebration of his birth, but also an opportunity for him to give God the greatest victory by truly honoring him as our parents.
As a student of religion, for me to view the throne of God not with one chair but with two, representing the masculine and the feminine, was a profound moment in my life. That moment will come again tomorrow, and I hope you as students of religion, and, just as I, people who felt called by God to enter into a ministry, will share with the world the profundity of his words and will inspire people to honor him in our daily lives. I know that you will be moved just as much as I was. And particularly for the women in the audience, I could not help but shed tears.
I said to my father, “You know, Father, before my mom restored the fallen Eve’s position to claim the proper role of women in a life of faith, you gave the women of our movement a tough time. I remember you giving American ladies a hard time, and I know that you were always challenging them: ‘You American women, who are beautiful, who are educated, who are so capable, puh puh puh.’” But he also said, “If you use all your attributes for the sake of yourself, puh puh puh; but if you use all your God-given attributes for the sake of God, you can change your country.”
Also I remember in one of those berating sessions of the American members on October 26, 1975, my father gave a prophetic message. He said, “Soon in American history, America will witness a child coming from a white mother and an African American father becoming the president of the United States.” Almost to the day thirty-three years later, on October 16, 2008, I had the honor of hosting Sen. Barack Obama’s event at the Manhattan Center and personally greeting him, in a way giving him my father’s blessing before his election win. And I had the honor to visit Dr. Lowery in Atlanta when he was convalescing and spent wonderful moments with him, recollecting and reminiscing about some of the things that we did. Shortly after, I heard that God asked you to give the benediction at the inauguration.
Providential history is moving very quickly. God is working his mysterious magic even as we walk through our lives each and every day. So, as Americans, this is the time when we must help wake up our group, just as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference ignited and inspired the youth of America in the 1960s to take up the matter of the civil rights movement. I feel that God prepared the ACLC to work together with greats like Dr. Lowery and Reverend Fauntroy to raise up a new consciousness, so that we can offer up to the world a generation of peace, a generation of young people that we can be proud of, a generation of young people that will safeguard our world and truly usher in a new millennium of world peace.
So I’m hoping that as we move forward and as we get to know each other as brothers and sisters and as men and women, we can concentrate on the things that truly make us beautiful; what each of us can contribute by honoring God in our daily lives is something truly unique and beautiful. And so is what we can do in terms of raising up our youth so that we can give them a reason to dream, a reason to think beyond themselves. We can give them a reason that living for the sake of others is a good thing because if you take care of your neighbor, maybe the neighbor will be inspired to take care of you. Once we get this giving and receiving dynamic going, there will be no stopping us. And there will be no stopping us once God’s spirit starts moving. And you know what? It’s already moving.
I know that Reverend Stallings here said that Reverend Fauntroy is enjoying his retirement, but I’m hoping that I can coax Reverend Fauntroy to come out of his retirement and help me work together to raise this new consciousness and build this generation of peace that is going to represent America in a truly great way. And in that way America will be exercising its true power by becoming an example to the world.
So, thank-you, brothers and sisters, for having us, my family and my husband, but more importantly, Dr. Lowery. Thank-you, Mrs. Lowery, so much. And I know that my father is very much looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.