The recent national crisis and racial tension have underscored that America seems more divided than ever. On the one hand, President Obama believes that our differences are just being exposed. On the other hand a few of us feel that the President and Attorney General Eric Holder exacerbated the race problem. In some ways, both views are right. How could that be? America has come a long way since the lynchings of the 50s and days of Selma. However, we have a ways to go in terms of race, poverty, and class.
We could not have expected the President, alone, to work miracles with an issue that has plagued our nation from its beginning. Our political leaders can only do so much. All the institutions in society must work together to move forward, but the Church has always had a special role to play. While segments of the American Church have historically been blind to the sin of racism—and even justified slavery by distorting Scripture—other parts of the Church have led the way in ending racial injustice.
So how can the Church take the lead as we look for ways to draw Americans closer together and build greater understanding among the growing variety of ethnic groups that make up our great "melting pot"? Last week Thursday January 15th, I helped convene a meeting of over 150 ministers who met at the Potter's House in Dallas, for a powerful closed door conclave called: The Reconciled Church: Healing The Racial Divide. Collectively, we represented a diverse group of significant leaders from across denominations and ideological backgrounds. These leaders represented over 40 million American Christians. more >>
I grew up in a household run by a woman of the civil rights movement. My mother, born Sharon Lawrence in 1948, was a teenager when she joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1966, one year after Dr. King's legendary march from Selma to Montgomery and President Lyndon B. Johnson's passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. With the foundations of progress and protection laid, there was still much work to be done. My mother was based in Philadelphia, where she helped establish one of SNCC's embattled northern offices.
A few years back, as I fished through boxes brimming with old papers and notepads, I discovered handwritten notes from James Forman to my mother. Forman offered detailed instruction to the then 18-year-old young woman who would become my mother only a few years later. Her job was much like mine is now: church outreach. The way she tells it, there were only a few churches in Philadelphia willing to offer their pulpits for movement people to speak. It was her job to secure those pulpits when giants like Forman, Stokely Carmichael, and others came to town.
I grew up aware of the women of the civil rights movement — my mother was one of them. more >>
On the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church urged the congregation to embrace differentness in others and take a stand about justice when needed, just as the civil rights movement leader did.
Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of the church in South Barrington, Illinois, began by talking about two basic kinds of wills, impulsive wills and reflective wills.
The impulsive will, he explained, is linked to our basic instincts, such as rage, hate, prejudice and revenge. The reflective will, on the other hand, "pushes the pause button," appeals to our higher angels, considers several other inputs from God that might influence what our eventual response will or should be, he said. more >>
"I am a racist." These were the words I heard from one of my church board members staring at a Nativity scene in the foyer of our church.
As a fifty-three year old, and having lived in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama early in life, I've lived long enough to remember things from my childhood that sowed racism into my life. Thank goodness that since those years in the 1960's, much has changed all over the country.
My first year of grade school was in Alabama, the last state to have segregated schools, therefore I attended the "white" school on the good side of town. My Dad was in the Coast Guard and we were poor. We lived on the other side of town in part of town near the railroad tracks and the district bussed us to the white school. I remember my mother's valiant attempt to teach us the wrongs of racism. I remember the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and I found my mom crying over it. more >>
A coalition of Philadelphia-area protesters will stage what they hope will be a 10,000-marcher demonstration on Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to protest the recent deaths, caused by police officers, of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Amid this mass protest on MLK Day, what would Dr. King have thought about their deaths and would he agree with the reactions so far?
The Philadelphia coalition of groups staging the protest believe, according to Daily news writer Mensah M. Dean, that "the slain civil-rights icon would have taken to the streets to protest what they believe are unjustified killings of unarmed black men."
"Organizers of MLK D.A.R.E. - Day of Action, Resistance and Empowerment - hope to get 10,000 marchers to honor King by protesting not only the deaths of Garner and Brown, but also to spotlight the need for reforms in the city's and nation's justice, economic and education systems," reported Dean. more >>
One man helped lead the United States of America into a new era of race relations, spearheading the massive grassroots call for racial equality.
On Monday, Americans will observe Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The federal holiday includes a day off school and a call to contemplation on the state of race in America.
Below are five facts about the holiday, the ways that people celebrate it, and how in at least one state, Dr. King with grouped with peers not often associated with the civil rights leader. more >>