A Unificationist’s Reflection on the Legacy of Rep. John Lewis

By Lorman Lykes

I am one of the early black members of the Unification Church in America, joining in 1973.  But as I reflect on my identity, I am the product of conflicting messages regarding my true value in the United States vs. the guiding light message of hope, love and truth which shaped me in the Unification Movement.

Unfortunately, there were times when I could not distinguish which message was the loudest.  After many years in a leadership capacity in the movement, I became inactive, preferring to focus on personal spiritual growth.

However, since 2020 has so far proven to be a transition year for enlightening people in America toward understanding the heart of black people, I feel I must express my opinion.  Especially, I want to touch on the intersection of race and the Unification Church.  I see this time as an opportunity not only for the racial reconciliation of America but also for the fulfillment of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s vision for this country.

I begin with a statement many are familiar with by Father Moon. When asked in a 1976 interview who was the greatest American leader of the 20th century, he answered: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What was the justification for such praise?  His wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, speaking at the 1985 acceptance speech for Rev. Moon’s honorary doctorate presentation, noted, “At a time when many oppressed people wanted to return hate for hate, Dr. King said, ‘We must return love for hate.’” This was a momentous occasion because it was a Historical Black College that bestowed the honorary doctorate upon Rev. Moon — Shaw Divinity School.

Was it a coincidence that the founder of the international Unification Movement, the embodiment of love for all people, received his honorary degree from a black college founded by ex-slaves? I think not.  Black people have had to overcome hate, fear and suffering to learn the lessons of true love, so it foreshadowed things to come.

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