I have just visited the Dexter Street Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama. It’s where Martin Luther King was first appointed Minister in 1954. Later he returned to Atlanta where he assisted his father alongside his national work campaigning for equal rights for African Americans.
On arriving at the church, I was greeted with a hug by Wanda Howard Battle, a tour guide and member of the congregation. Her parents had also worshipped here and took part in the bus boycott started when Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person.
Wanda’s tour took a good hour, although in reality there was little to see, apart from a church. What made the visit special was her passion and commitment that she was playing her part in encouraging equality today. We got to learn about each other in the small group, stood at the lecture from which Luther King delivered some of his famous speeches and were invited to recite a line from one of them.
This turned a tourist visit into a meaningful experience, that prompted me, and I’m sure others, to reflect on our values, our beliefs and what we are doing (or not) to encourage others to see the folly of discrimination and prejudice. As a Quaker with a passion for combating inequalities, this was for me powerful stuff. I could see that others were moved by the experience.
Wanda’s faith was clearly central to her life. It makes what she does so effective, because she feels she is doing God’s work, which whatever your religious view, cannot be denied. The most successful entrepreneurs I know are also driven by an innate belief that what they are doing is right. Some are religiously motivated, and others by past personal experience of injustice.