Posted: January 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

At the annual Diversity breakfast of Columbia the usual awards were given – one to an organization and one to an individual. The recipients are supposed to exemplify the values and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. Most certainly the individual award went to just such a person.

Rev. Richard Blunt, a United Methodist Minister, slowly made his way to the stage to be recognized. By this point in life he is deep in the winter of retirement, having accumulated many years of service to church, community and nation in the cause of justice and equal rights. One of the stories stood out for me.

In the early 1960s the public pool in Fayette barred blacks from swimming with whites. As in many other similar social situations they were not welcome. As far as Dick Blunt was concerned this was entirely unacceptable. Rather than mutter about it under his breath or just talk to those who might be sympathetic to his position, he took a public stand. The end result of months of talking, teaching, writing and persuading was a pool open to all people. What happened to the Blunt family as a result, however, was something else.

They began to receive threats – notes, calls, vandalism. And then came the death threats. For a minister with a family and young children it was more than a little disconcerting. But he stayed the course. And in the end justice prevailed. For Dick Blunt this was the first of many other occasions when he would insist, publicly, that the demand of love required more.

And that’s why this elderly man – who found it difficult to walk even twenty feet from his chair to the stage – stood before a thousand people who gave him a standing ovation. He earned it, of course. And a life like this, one laced with integrity and courage, lends those qualities to the rest of us. Thanks, Richard.

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