Category : Race/Race Relations

(NYT) Bombed by the K.K.K. A Friend of Rosa Parks. At 90, This White Pastor Is Still Fighting.

The Rev. Robert S. Graetz was virtually alone among Montgomery’s white ministers in supporting the bus boycott that helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

That’s when the bombings began.

As the white pastor at an all-black Lutheran church in Alabama in the 1950s, Mr. Graetz was just 28 years old when he became a recurring target for the Ku Klux Klan.

“The noise awakened us,” Rosa Parks, who was a neighbor of the Graetz family, wrote of a 1957 attack.

In the brief, handwritten document, Mrs. Parks described decades later how she and her husband went quickly to the Graetz family’s home after the bombing. The area had been roped off by the police.

“They said we could not enter. Rev. Graetz spoke to me and said, ‘Come in Brother Parks and Mrs. Parks,’” she added. “We went and offered to help. We began sweeping the floor and picking up.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

He attended last year’s deadly Charlottesville rally. Then a black pastor changed his life.

One year ago, Ken Parker attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but has made a significant transformation after accepting an invitation to a black church. His story is featured in part in the Emmy-nominated Fuuse film ‘White Right: Meeting the Enemy’ on Netflix.

You need to take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Soteriology

(AP) ‘Sheltering wings:’ Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston’s memorial plan conveys solace

Church officials unveiled detailed plans Sunday afternoon for the permanent tribute designed by the architect behind the 9/11 Memorial in New York. The announcement, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the church known as “Mother Emanuel,” will be followed by a push to raise the money needed to build the memorial and prayer garden.

Church officials say the design conveys both solace and resiliency. A marble fountain with carvings of the victims’ names will be flanked by curved stone benches that rise above visitors’ heads and cradle the space “like sheltering wings,” according to a news release.

“When you walk into the memorial, it’s going to give you the feeling of being embraced, just embraced with warmth,” said City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, a church trustee who lost a loved one in the June 2015 attack.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(AP+PPG) Federal government reopens probe of 1955 Emmett Till slaying

The federal government has reopened its investigation into the slaying of Emmett Till, the black teenager whose brutal killing in Mississippi shocked the world and helped inspire the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.

The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March it is reinvestigating Till’s slaying in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 after receiving “new information.” The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn’t file any new charges.

Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The federal report, sent annually to lawmakers under a law that bears Till’s name, does not indicate what the new information might be.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations, Violence

(NPR Marketplace) We’re still figuring out how to desegregate higher education

Back in 1975, Jake Ayers Sr. sued the state of Mississippi, arguing that the state treated its three historically black colleges and universities differently than it did the state colleges and universities white students attended. A landmark case to desegregate higher education, the Ayers case, as it is known, wound its way through the courts for nearly 30 years, and ended in a $500 million settlement for the state’s HBCUs. That money is about to run out.

Adam Harris wrote about it an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He says the money has done some good, but that public universities in the state are still deeply segregated. The following is an edited transcript of his conversation with Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O’Leary.

Adam Harris: There have been gains, you know, they have new buildings or sometimes they have new programs — some of them are sustainable, some of them aren’t sustainable. I think that there are still some very fundamental problems that, you know, the government isn’t really focusing in on since Mississippi, according to them, has proven that they’ve desegregated their higher education system by settling the Ayers case.

Lizzie O’Leary: You know there’s this really interesting question when we talk about desegregation. What does it mean to desegregate an HBCU?

Harris: Yeah and that is the question that people are grappling with. Most people place the onus of desegregation on black colleges. It’s almost like blaming them for their history, which that they were created to serve undeserved populations, you know, the black population.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Young Adults

(ABC 7 Chicago) Hard to watch but important–Milwaukee police release Sterling Brown arrest body cam video

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales apologized to Bucks guard Sterling Brown on Wednesday for a January arrest that started with a parking violation and escalated to include use of a stun gun, and said some officers had been disciplined.

Brown responded with a statement that described the incident as “an attempt at police intimidation” and said it “shouldn’t happen to anybody.”

Morales’ apology came as police released body-camera footage that showed how a simple interaction over an illegally parked car quickly escalated. City officials’ concern over the content of the video was apparent earlier this week when Mayor Tom Barrett said he found it concerning.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Bruce Fields–When He Died Upon the Tree: James Cone’s seminal book gives a theological response to the dark history of lynchings in America

These are signposts that can be passed together as there is much that is mutually informing between the cross and the lynching tree, and Cone makes a strong case on the horizontal, human plane. When it comes to the vertical plane between God and the human community, however, reflection on the Scriptures may call for walking along another pathway.

For African Americans, Cone’s vision may involve the empowerment of lament and forgiveness, ideas he does not address directly in his book. The reality of lament is illustrated by the parable of the servant who owed 10,000 talents (Matt. 18:24–35). There was no way that the servant could pay that amount. His master could sell him and his family as slaves to obtain some payment, but it would never be enough. But the master chose to forgive the debt, astronomical as it was.

There is a similar reality when it comes to the debt accumulated in the United States because of its racist heritage. Some crimes are so overwhelming to the senses and reason itself—inflicting pain and sorrow of unimaginable proportions—that no real restitution can be made for them. Repentance for the sin of racism is appropriate, but much damage has been done. Recognition of this reality through the practice of lament is necessary for healing to begin.

In his book, Born from Lament: The Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa, Emmanuel Katongole conceives of lament as “a complex set of practices or disciplines—a way of seeing, standing, and wrestling or arguing with God, and thus a way of hoping in the midst of ruins.” Lament argues with God, but then leaves matters to him, paving the way for eventual forgiveness. Forgiveness is foundational to the gospel. For the dehumanized, it can bring healing to the soul, particularly to the memory. It can also prevent the dehumanized from becoming dehumanizers. It may take the biblical practice of lament and the difficult discipline of forgiveness for Cone’s vision of hope to be realized.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(PR FactTank) Black Americans are more likely than overall public to be Christian, Protestant

Unlike Americans of European descent, most black Americans trace their ancestry to areas of Africa that, centuries ago, were not primarily part of the Christian world. Yet, today, a larger share of African Americans than whites say they are Christian. And, of all major U.S. racial and ethnic groups, blacks are the most likely to identify as Protestant.

Nearly eight-in-ten black Americans (79%) identify as Christian, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. By comparison, seven-in-ten Americans overall (71%) say they are Christian, including 70% of whites, 77% of Latinos and just 34% of Asian Americans. Meanwhile, about seven-in-ten blacks are Protestant, compared with less than half of the public overall (47%), including 48% of whites, roughly a quarter of Latinos and 17% of Asian Americans.

More than half of all black adults in the United States (53%) are classified as members of the historically black Protestant tradition. This includes those who tell us they belong to specific denominations such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church or the Church of God in Christ. The category also includes black Americans who do not identify with a specific denomination but instead say they associate with a broader Protestant group (e.g., “just Baptist” or “just Methodist” or “just Pentecostal”) that has a sizable number of historically black denominations.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

The keynote address by Russell Moore at the MLK50 Conference last week–Black and White and Red All Over: Why Racial Justice Is a Gospel Issue

Black and White and Red All Over: Why Racial Justice Is a Gospel Issue from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

You need to take the time to listen and ponder it all carefully–KSH.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Cornel West and Robert George–Dr. King’s Radical Biblical Vision

[Martin Luther] King [Jr.] was truly radical in his literal reading of Jesus’ command that we love others unconditionally, selflessly and self-sacrificially. And by “others,” he meant everyone—even those who defend injustice. He believed in struggling hard, and with conviction, for what one believes is right; but he equally insisted on seeing others as precious brothers and sisters, even if one judges them to be gravely in error.

King chose nonviolence not simply because he thought it was an effective strategy. This commitment reflected his belief in the sanctity of the human person, the principle that all men and women, as children of God, were brothers and sisters. King saw himself as the leader of a love-inspired movement, not a tribe or “identity group,” and that is because his radical love ethic refused to divide people into tribes and identity groups.

It was no mere ideology, but rather this biblically based radical love ethic that enabled Martin Luther King Jr. to embrace, fully and without reservation, the idea of America as a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” And it was radical love that drove him to risk—and give—his life in the cause of calling his fellow citizens finally and fully to live up to our national ideal of “liberty and justice for all.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Heath Carter–The formation of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the best known and least understood Americans of the 20th century. Fifty years after his assassination, the contrast between his life and memory could hardly be more stark. In the eyes of countless white Americans, King died a communist villain. He has been resurrected as a loveable mascot for an ever-improving American way.

On the January holiday that commemorates his life and legacy, we hear little about King’s strident opposition to racial and economic inequality at home, not to mention his vociferous denunciation of American imperialism abroad. Instead attention is directed to selective snippets from his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and especially this line: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Ripped out of context, this one sentence might seem to suggest that King was a cheerleader for colorblind liberalism, seeking only formal, not actual, equality.

But King was far more radical than that. He had democratic socialist sympathies and fought doggedly for a more egalitarian distribution of wealth. The fact that his ties to the progressive labor movement have been scrubbed from the typical story is all the more amazing given that the reason he was in Memphis when gunned down there in April 1968 was to stand with striking sanitation workers.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(The Voice) Westminster Abbey Marks 50th Anniversary Of MLK’s Death

[Yesterday]…marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s death. To commemorate this milestone, a ceremony took place at Westminster abbey as HRH The Duke of Kent, the general public and more payed their respects to Dr. King.

At the start of the service, wreaths were laid at the Innocent Victims’ Memorial by Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Chief Executive of Christian Aid, and beneath the statue of Martin Luther King Jr above the Abbey’s Great West Door by Lewis Lukens, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: “We come to give thanks for the life and work of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr, assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, fifty years ago today.”

A statue commemorating Martin Luther King was placed in a niche on the west front of the Abbey in 1998 alongside those of nine other 20th century Christian martyrs.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Duke Kwon–John Perkins Has Hope for Racial Reconciliation. Do We?

The call of reconciliation requires us to lament these historic wrongs, giving voice to the groaning of our soul. “I believe strongly that the church in America has much to lament,” Perkins declares, inviting us to “dig up the deep wounds of our history” and insisting that the church must “take more ownership for our collective sin.” He leads us to lament numerous failures from our collective past: the enduring racial segregation of our local churches, the egregious misuse of Scripture to defend slavery and protect the interests of slave-owners, our neglect of ministry to (and with) the poor and marginalized as a crucial aspect of biblical reconciliation, the prioritizing of global missions at the expense of local mission, and our lack of remorse for the sin of racism in the church.

Lament, which “requires that we acknowledge that something horrific has happened,” must also lead to confession. Our racial wounds will not be healed without first being exposed. As he provides examples for corporate confession, Perkins is notably inclusive in his approach. He names areas of common failure: the sin of creating Jesus in our own image, our debilitating fears around the issue of race (1 John 4:18), and our unwillingness to endure suffering (1 Pet. 1:6–7). But he also identifies specific areas of confession for black Christians and white Christians.

Perkins clearly acknowledges that “racism still haunts” the black community. Nevertheless, “for many of us black folks, there has been an anger that has not always been managed well.” Prior generations channeled that anger into nonviolent resistance and the building of black institutions (colleges, hospitals, churches), but now “we have turned that anger on ourselves, and our cities and communities have become unsafe places.” White brothers and sisters, on the other hand, “may need to confess denying that racism exists, choosing to ignore the implications of privilege, and at times acting to reinforce a double standard.” Some will resist the idea of a historically oppressed group having any obligation to admit wrongdoing, while others will resist the notion of privilege, but Perkins will have it no other way. We must revisit our past sins in order to grow in reconciliation.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Yahoo News) Honoring Martin Luther King Jr., evangelicals weigh their response to racism

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., evangelicals gathered in Memphis on Tuesday to assess where their movement stands in relation to King’s mission and ministry. The consensus of the speakers was they were falling short.

“Why is American evangelicalism so white and so middle class?” asked Russell Moore, an evangelical leader who was an outspoken opponent of Donald Trump in 2016. “Why are we not cultivating the future? Why are we not bearing one another’s burdens?”

Moore took direct aim at tolerance for racism and systemic injustice within the white evangelical church, and said that the failure of the white American church when it comes to healing and rectifying the ills of racism have caused a “crisis of faith” for many younger Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Katie Ganshert via Ann Voskamp) Why the Church Can’t Keep Turning Away From Our Race Issues: Why We Can’t Put the Past Behind Us–Because It’s Buried In Us

Slowly I started to see what I couldn’t before—a pervasive injustice all around.

“The world is wrong. You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you.” – Claudia Rankine

Slavery. Convict leasing. Over 4,000 lynchings. Jim Crow segregation. White flight and red-lining.

All of it is buried in us. All of it points to an appallingly racist past that has left a racist legacy that manifests itself in policies and systems that disadvantage and oppress specific people groups.

Like our education system, where black and brown students find themselves more segregated than they were in 1968—stuck in schools that are understaffed and under-resourced.

Or a criminal justice system that frisks 85% of blacks and Latinos stopped by police, but only 8% of whites. Those are just two examples of many—the tippity-top of a giant racial iceberg. Statistics I didn’t know until I started to listen.

I had no idea that Sunday remains the most segregated hour in America. I saw a handful of black people inside my church as proof that we were fine. I had no idea that many black evangelicals in predominately white churches report feeling unseen and unheard.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture