Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Beloved Community: The Dreamer

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Beloved Community: The Dreamer
By Rev. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield (Ph.D. 2020)

Rev. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, GA, and died on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, TN. At the young age of 26, he began his public ministry for the dignity of all of humanity, and by the age of 39-his life was snuffed out by the violent imposition of a racist assassin’s bullet.

Considering his youth at the outset of his work and the relative brevity of the time that he lived, it is nearly impossible to give any serious consideration to the King Legacy without being magnetically and undeniably drawn to the urgency and immediacy of the concept of selflessness and the notion of NOW! Even Dr. King himself said, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late” (King Jr., Beyond Vietnam, 1967).

And so, to speak or write concerning Dr. King’s Legacy requires an answer to certain challenging and probing questions such as: How are we utilizing and maximizing the limited time we have to evoke and promote a common good within our country and among all people? What are we intentionally doing for others as we pass along the way of this life? How are we honoring King’s Legacy by standing for what is right in our communities and taking steps to make a positive impact on the world?

One of the most pervasive philosophical concepts that remained a constant and consistent part of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s theological and ideological operative ministry and social change motif was the notion of the Beloved Community. Rufus Burrow and

Dwayne Tunstall stated, “It is indisputable that the keystone of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s theological and social ethic was his beloved community ideal” (Burrow & Tunstall, 2015, p. 17). And because this governing idea was so pervasive in King’s approach to social change ministry, one cannot help but ask: What is Martin Luther King’s coveted Beloved Community? And where is it located?

King, himself, appeared to be describing this utopian communal reality in his “I Have A Dream” speech as a place where “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers” (King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963). He called it a community where we “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. . .” and “. . . we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together” (King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963).

King said this “Beloved Community” is that blessed place where “. . . all of God’s children, black men, and white men, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last” (Dr. King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963).

Is this place (this Beloved Community) a real place? Is this a community that can ever actually exist?

About Rev. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield

Rev. Dr. Antoni Sinkfield graduated from Union Institute & University in 2020 with a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Ethical & Creative Leadership and a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization. He is the Associate Dean of Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

A native of Nashville, TN, Rev. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and has served as Dean of Students for Allen University, a historically Black College (HBCU) in Columbia, SC. He is a founding member of Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), a citywide social action organization fighting for justice for the underserved.

In addition to his Union Ph.D., he holds a Dr. Sinkfield holds an M.Div. (Vanderbilt Divinity School), and a B.Sc. in Marketing (Tennessee Technological University). He has completed post-graduate work at United Theological Seminary; Oral Roberts University; and Asbury Theological Seminary as a Beeson Pastor Scholar, where he engaged in intense immersion ministry experiences in Seoul, South Korea, Nairobi, Kenya, and the Masai Mara. Dr. Sinkfield has also ministered in Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia on the continent of Africa.


Enroll today to explore the life and legacy of Dr. King with a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization within your Ph.D.