JERUSALEM—Almost every American knows of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speeches, “I Have a Dream” and, his final one, “The Mountaintop.”
But what few people know is that when he said he had been to the mountaintop and had seen the Promised Land, King was speaking literally – he had visited Israel.
And it is this connection to the land of Israel and King’s subsequent support of the Jewish state that Bishop Glenn Plummer, of the Church of God in Christ, attributes to the blessings that Black America enjoys today.
“Because Black America chose to follow Dr. King and his non-violent approach, it is our belief and conviction that God blessed Black America as a result of Dr. King blessing Israel,” Plummer told a Jerusalem summit of Christian and Jewish leaders on Thursday.
King’s “Mountaintop” speech was 42 minutes, Plummer noted, much longer than the soundbite it is known for today. Plummer played audio of King as he recalled he and his wife driving the treacherous road that descends from Jerusalem to Jericho.
While many people interpreted King's words as symbolism, the renowned civil rights leader was literally recalling his trip to Israel.
This speech, at a Church of God in Christ congregation in Memphis, was King’s last. He was shot and killed the next day.
“What’s important to always remember … at that time there were two other groups vying for Black America. One was the Nation of Islam led by a couple of men, Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X,” Plummer said. “The other one was a nonreligious group, secular … they were embodied by the Black Panthers and other types.”
Plummer is a bishop with the Church of God in Christ, the largest Pentecostal church in the world, and the largest Black church in the world with 6.5 million members in the U.S. alone and churches in 112 countries.
Another of King’s poignant quotes on Zionism, which Plummer noted, is printed in a book published by the State of Israel: “How easy it should be to understand and support the right of the Jewish people to live in their ancient land of Israel. All men of goodwill exult in the fulfillment of God‘s promise, that his people should return in joy to rebuild their plundered land. This is Zionism, nothing more, and nothing less.”
King spoke of his trip to Israel from the pulpit and said he wept in the presence of the Lord when he reached Jerusalem.
“Dr. Martin Luther King was a Christian Zionist and, as a result of that, he chose to bless Israel and God blessed us,” Plummer said of the Black church in America. “There were schools we could not attend – now we sit as presidents of the same universities. We could not be in certain military squadrons – we have then since ascended to the position of the Chairman of the Joint chief of staff. We could not even vote in many places and we ascended to the White House. There are many places that in one generation this people was elevated.”
“Why? It is the blessing of the Lord. It is our belief that one man, in the name of Black America, chose to bless Israel and that was directly as a result of him coming here,” he said.
Plummer warned that those same groups, some even anti-Semitic, are still present today vying for Black America.
“And yet the Black Church is still, by far, the voice and the strength of Black America,” Plummer said. “Pray with us, pray for us, as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Plummer came to Israel to ensure that King’s legacy remains strong within the next generation of Black Americans. Plummer and Ruth, his wife, are building a world-class Media Institute for African Americans between 20 to 40 years old to come for three months to learn about the culture and people of Israel and create media content that will be used in the U.S. for Israel advocacy.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.