MLK Day: Covenantal Pledge by the People

Dandelion Salad

Reposted with permission from Rabbi Arthur Waskow from the Shalom Center

From the latest email:

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Jan. 14, 2009

Rebirthing King, Re-Inaugurating America: A Covenantal Pledge by the American People

[This Covenantal Pledge was developed by The Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah as part of an effort to reawaken Americans to work for the vision of America set forth by Dr. Martin Luther King in his Riverside Church speech of April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his death.

We invite congregations and communities all over America to sign or affirm the Covenantal Pledge and proclaim it publicly between January 17 and 20, 2009, as the people’s analogue to the new president’s oath of office. The words of this Pledge were almost entirely drawn from the Riverside speech. (The speech itself can be seen at The parts emphasized in bold are especially relevant today.)

We send this out today, January 14, in honor of the yohrzeit (death-anniversary) of Dr. King’s close co-worker, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.. Please circulate this Pledge broadly. — Shalom, salaam, peace – Arthur]



On this rebirthing day, January 19, 2009, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, on the eve of there coming into office a new government to represent the American people, I join in covenant with other Americans: —

I commit myself to give a new birth in America and in the world to the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, to call ourselves and every nation now to develop an overriding loyalty to humankind as a whole, in order to preserve the best in our individual societies;

I commit myself to work toward a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond any tribe, race, class, or nation; to call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all humanity and for the web of life upon our planet;

I commit myself to fuse power with compassion, might with morality, and strength with sight; to choose nonviolent coexistence rather than violent co-annihilation; to speak for peace and justice throughout the world — within and beyond our doors and shores.

I commit myself to take the following specific actions:

[For example: “I will work for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq war and an end to US military presence there”; “I will use less gasoline”; I will read one of Martin Luther King’s speeches that I have not read”; “I will write my Senators about subsidizing railroads and solar/wind energy instead of autos, coal, and oil”; “I will work for the hospitality-for-the-homeless program in my church, synagogue, or mosque.” Fill in as follows:]



I do this in the knowledge that tomorrow is today, that we are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long, hard, and beautiful struggle for a new world.

(Signed) ________________________________

Name) _________________________________

Address ________________________________

Phone/s ________________________________

Email __________________________________

Please email to or mail to Tent of Abraham, 6711 Lincoln Drive, Philadelphia PA 19119. If you can enclose a donation for this work, or go to The Shalom Center website (click on logo below) and make a donation marked “In honor of — Tent” it will be used to advance this effort. Donations are tax-deductible.

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!


A Time to Break Silence By Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence By Rev. Martin Luther King (video; transcript)

Subversive Prayer in Time of War – to Shatter Pyramids of Callousness by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

2 thoughts on “MLK Day: Covenantal Pledge by the People

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