I pause for a moment and finally answer yes, I believe so, but perhaps differently in method, or timing, or results. I try to explain in a way my daughters would understand: when Dr. King lived, multiple forces were at work. The discontent surrounding the mistreatment of blacks had grown too severe for people not to act, not to speak out. Many players, both everyday citizens and others in positions of greater authority, were in place. Dr. King's particular abilities -- his articulation, his ability to cast vision, his drive and discipline, his willingness to lay down his life for what's right -- it all coalesced at this time, within this precise context, when the country desperately needed and was poised for change. Being a principled and visionary and godly man, Dr. King devoted his life to bring about that change.
If he hadn't been born, I speculate, the Civil Rights movement still would have happened, but it might have unfolded differently. Perhaps more militantly. Perhaps not as quickly.
I think of a verse in the Old Testament book of Esther when Esther, upon becoming queen during exceptionally tumultuous times of Jewish persecution, is advised, "Who knows if you were made queen for such a time as this?" In other words, Esther was told, "What if your life was designed for this exact moment, for this exact role, for this exact point in history, because God knew that you'd be a person who wouldn't remain quiet, a person who'd bring relief and deliverance to your people?"
A Jewish woman born four centuries before Christ. A black man born in Atlanta in 1929. Both were born for such a time as this.
Our lives may not be as celebrated as Dr. King or Queen Esther, but today I'm motivated as I remember that I'm born for such a time as this, too. Our lives -- no matter how small they might feel as we shop for groceries, go to work, pay our bills, get the mail, interact with our neighbors, raise our children, or stand up for causes we believe in -- are designed to be lived well. To live justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.
We're born for such a time as this. I want to do it well.
* * * * *
"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."
Dr. King | New Covenant Baptist Church | Chicago, Illinois | April 9, 1967