The road to racial equality in America has been a long and bumpy one; fortunately the leadership of the movements that progressed it successfully have done so in a particular way.
The early abolitionists were escaped slaves; one of the most prolific was Harriet Tubman who had a wonderful simple trust in God. After escaping herself to the north she began her work of leading others to freedom and made countless journeys to the south to rescue slaves and lead them back. The slave owners placed a bounty on her head but she had no fear of capture despite often being within a few feet of search parties. Her trust in God was absolute, a legacy from her own father who despite being a slave almost all his life trusted and loved his Savior, fasting every Friday to remember the sacrifice that sets us all free. Later Harriet helped the Union army during the civil war as a spy and scout. This is the pedigree and conviction of those who helped end slavery.
A century later the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King showed the same source of inspiration and power. Prayer and the humility of non-violence also led to substantial change as it brought about the end of segregation on buses, schools etc, another major step forward.
Both Harriet and King both realized the nature of their struggle. In the latter’s case he framed it as seeking unity with his white brothers, winning them back. Harriet, even more astoundingly when asked how she viewed the white slave owners said that they ‘didn’t know any better’ they had learned to think that way which is reminiscent of Jesus’ own words on the cross, ‘forgive them Father for they don’t know what they are doing’. Graciousness in spite of great suffering and opposition, their focus was always reconciliatory.