Not long ago a grand idea captured the imagination of a spirit-filled pastor. As he shined the light of the Word of God on America’s racial redemption, he had a radical vision of interracial harmony –– a simple seed. It seeded his heart-felt dream of little black boys and girls playing together with little white boys and girls. In one generation his dream came true. We of Generation X were the first to be friends and play together as little kids.
But the young preacher, still deeply immersed in the Word, probably never imagined that blacks and whites would sit down together, not only at the “table of brotherhood,” but also the table of matrimony. They would give birth to a new generation with a whole class of people who are neither black nor white, but both — stretching far beyond his wildest dreams.
My biracial niece, Hannah, and I were talking about Martin Luther King, Jr., and what she had learned about him in school. She was only in second grade then. She was piled in the back seat of the minivan, along with my kids Caitlin and Cameron, and their cousin Austin. We were on our annual spring break escapade to the Travis County fair, Children’s museum, San Antonio Zoo, and every place in between. I asked her about what Martin Luther King did.
“He freed the slaves,” she said with confidence.
At first, I thought this was just another example of our subpar school system. But as I thought more about it, she had a point. I realized that Hannah was already living Dr. King’s dream, though she knew next to nothing about him. Unlike us, Hannah was truly emancipated. Her step was a bit lighter than earlier generations. She no longer carried the ball and chain of the American racial dilemma. The evidence of it was not in what she believed, but who she is. She cannot help it. Her little 7-year-old self “breaks down the walls between races, reconciling both to God, and slaying the animosity, thereby.” (Ephesians 2:14) We of Generation X and Baby Boomer generations have to be mindful of the Civil Rights movement in order to keep the equality torch burning, but Hannah does not. She simply has to be herself.
Hannah and myriad others like them in the Millennial generation, embody Dr. King’s original vision. The very seed of the dream has germinated. They carry it in their DNA, literally. In fact, they are the living, breathing incarnation of interracial harmony. Come to think of it, no one wants to choke on a seed. We prefer the fruit. In the same way, we expect words to go beyond pie-in-the-sky imagination. We want them to be fleshed out into reality.
Multi-racial kids in the next generation are the fruit — the Word made flesh. It is as if “a man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. The earth produces all by itself — first a green stem of grass, then a bud, and then the ripened fruit. As soon as it is ripe, he puts in the sickle, because the harvest is here. Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it?” (Mark 4:26)
A.J. Mack is mathematics professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. He grew up a preacher's son in the evangelical non-denominational church, Corpus Christi Christian Fellowship (3CF).