By Lanta Cooper
“Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.”
Social activist Malvina Reynolds penned these words in 1962 to describe her frustration with the uniformity of houses, communities, and neighbors — everything looked just the same. Her words, however, don’t ring true in southeast Atlanta.
The little boxes and the families living inside of them don’t look just the same. Neither do all the people walking th
rough the doors of Park Avenue Baptist Church throughout the week.
I was having a conversation with one of our church members the other day, and she said she loves our community of faith because we treat all people with integrity. I love that.
I serve as a bi-vocational mental health counselor and children’s minister in Grant Park, a beautifully diverse community in southeast Atlanta that is still working toward racial and economic justice. In each of my roles, I hope to meet people where they are, treating each person with dignity and integrity.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s well-known words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” often play over and over in my head as I consider what injustices still surround the community I serve, which is located just blocks away from Ebenezer Baptist Church. And his legacy empowers and inspires me to dream big dreams, too. His dream was big enough to change the world. That wasn’t a small task; it was a scary one.
I dream that the homeless woman seeking the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter can recognize her worth. I dream that single parents can believe they are enough. I dream that the young son who hears gunshots outside of his bedroom window can transform his fears into limitless courage.
I feel grateful to belong to a faith community that is open to dreaming new dreams, being innovative with the use of space to meet unmet needs in our community, opening our doors to our neighbors, helping people reclaim their God-given dignity.
Dr. King’s dream is a part of God’s dream. We all have the potential to be co-creators with God; each of us still has a part to play in the pursuit of justice. Dr. King was not afraid to dream with God and pursue with urgency the call for us to treat all people with integrity.
I feel the urgency of the call to serve, of the call to pursue justice, to seek equality, to fill the cracks of suffering with love and hope. God’s dream is big enough to change the world. It’s a scary task, but an urgent one. Let’s keep dreaming big dreams with God.
Lanta Cooper, LAPC, has served as the Minister to Children at Park Avenue Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia since 2009. Lanta has also served as an Associate Staff Therapist with the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia since 2013, where she has recently developed a Grant Park counseling office. Lanta received her M.Div. from McAfee School of Theology and her M.S. in Clinical Mental Health from Mercer University.
This column is Part 5 of the Dr. King and Beloved Community series here at CBFblog. Check out other posts in this series below:
Part 1 — ”Dr. King and Beloved Community — A CBFblog series” (by Aaron Weaver, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship)
Part 2 — “The The Spiritual Discipline of Martin Luther King Jr.” (by Doug Weaver, Baylor University)
Part 3 — “Celebrating Dr. King and the Separation of Church and State” (by Charles Watson Jr., Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
Part 4 — “‘Tell Them About the Dream, Martin!'” (by Patrick Anderson, Christian Ethics Today)