* * *
“God was showing me something, telling me something. There were blacks who had accepted our message. Who had embraced the gospel. Who now knew dignity. Who now walked taller than before.
And there were whites who believed in justice. Who lived love. Who shared themselves. Who joined our community.
I began to see with horror how hate could destroy me–destroy me more devastatingly and suddenly than and destruction I could bring on those who wronged me. I could try and fight back, as many of my brothers had done. But if I did, how would I be different from the whites who hate?
And where would hating get me? Anyone can hate. This whole business of hating and hating back. It’s what keeps the vicious cycle of racism going.
The Spirit of God worked on me as I lay in that bed [after Perkins had a heart attack]. An image formed in my mind. The image of the cross–Christ on the cross. It blotted out everything else in my mind.
This Jesus knew what I had suffered. He understood. And He cared. Because He had experienced it all himself. [ . . . ]
And when He looked at that mob that had lynched Him, He didn’t hate them. He loved them. He forgave them. And He prayed for God to forgive them. [ . . . ]
His enemies hated. But Jesus forgave. I couldn’t get away from that.”
* * *
“To develop the Christian community as a group that could show love within itself and to the world would be creating a new entity that was more than the sum of the individual Christians. The community’s existence itself, as a structure, would open up so many new channels of strength and witness. Individual heroism and suffering, though always needed at times of crisis, would not be able to inflict such terrible isolation on the individuals who lived and breathed in a brotherhood of intertwined lives.”