Catching Up with a Dream (Part 3)

Just Not Getting It

In September 1968, five months later, Glen Kehrein, a white senior from Moody Bible Institute, was on a student retreat at the Green Lake Assembly Grounds, an American Baptist camping and convention in central Wisconsin.

Sharing the huge convention grounds with Moody that year were Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, and other leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC had been turned upside-down since the murder of King, and it was time to pause and take account of the organization's future.

Kehrein was familiar with a few of the SCLC's surviving leaders, but King had intrigued him the most. He had heard about King's reputation as a "Communist" and troublemaker, and Christian leaders had warned him about the dangerous theology contained in King's "social gospel." Kehrein didn't know what to believe. After King's murder, the streets of Chicago had turned into a war zone. The sounds, sights, and aromas of sniper fire, burning buildings, and armed National Guardsmen were fresh in his mind. Even the relationships between black and white students at Moody seemed to carry some underlying strain. "I saw the racial divide vividly in the dorm when King's shooting was announced," Kehrein recalls. "There was a completely different reaction between the blacks and whites. It was not that dissimilar from the conflicting reactions that came after the O. J. Simpson verdict. We definitely were not on the same page."

In Wisconsin, Kehrein wanted to put those disturbing memories out of his head. But he somehow knew they were matters he needed to confront. He was hopeful when his professor announced that Ralph Abernathy had agreed to share a few words with the Moody students, that perhaps King's closest colleague would be ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next