DEARBORN HEIGHTS — On January 27, the Islamic Institute of America (IIA) hosted an interfaith dialogue about “the voice of human justice” as part of a tribute to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream of unity and equality.
The event, which drew a capacity crowd, had the theme of “One Nation Under God.” It included Quran recitation and speeches given by IIA leader Hassan Al-Qazwini and Rev. Kenneth Flowers, senior pastor at Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit.
A civil rights icon himself, Flowers’ message during the MLK tribute event was a call for building stronger bridges between people of different faiths and to unify efforts against inequality and discriminatory policies.
“Dr. King’s last book was titled ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,’” he said. “When I think about ‘One Nation Under God’, when I think about Dr. King’s life and legacy, when I think of his final book, it lets me know we are honoring a man who is not afraid to stand up for truth and justice.”
Flowers also said Dr. King was not only a civil rights leader, but also unequivocally a baptist and a preacher.
“He was a projector of love, a warrior for justice and a fighter for freedom,” he said as he conveyed different connotations of being politically incorrect.
Flowers contrasted the two meanings of “politically incorrect” by highlighting President Trump’s insensitive administration on the one hand and describing Dr. King’s decision to stand up against then-Alabama Governor George Wallace and-then Sheriff Jim Clark. He also wasn’t afraid to speak against Presidents Eisenhower or Kennedy. He confronted the United States government itself.
King said that a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder for consensus.
“Cowardice asks the question — is it safe?” King once said. “Expediency asks the question — is it political? Vanity asks the question — is it popular? But conscience asks the question — is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
Flowers denounced Trump’s beliefs and past comments of instituting a Muslim ban. He also denounced the president’s blatant comments about other nations, including many African countries.
“Racism and Islamophobia should never be normalized in this country,” he said. “The moment you normalize racism and Islamophobia, you become numb to it. And when it occurs, that is just the way it is. You could never normalize evil in America, you could never normalize injustice in America and you could never normalize racism, sexism, classism in America. Anytime we normalize it, we become numb to it.”
From the young, who were on the edge of their seats, to the elderly who patiently listened, the entire congregation gave Flowers a standing ovation as he passionately called on them to fight against the governmental injustices faced by immigrants and poor communities.
“I still believe in community,” he said. “I still believe in hope, despite the rise of racism and Islamophobia here in America. I still believe that the beloved community can be found. Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him.”