The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis is Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village of New York City. Jacqui and her multiracial, fully inclusive congregation work for racial, economic and LGBTQ/gender justice as part of their ministry to heal souls and the world. They believe faith is about Love. Period.
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A Note from Charleston
We saw a gathered crowd, a makeshift memorial, flowers and ribbons with the names of the beloved on them. We five walked our pilgrimage, paid our respects separately and together. I spoke to people from Charleston, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Texas. They were predominantly white, but people of all races – children and old folk — weeping, hugging. It was church, y’all, like when at first everyone is not there and then they come.
As we talked to community people, tourists and pilgrims, we also talked to CBS, CNN, some British folk, a black man who covers black news. Reporters were intrigued by our multiracial and multi-faith, interracial and interfaith, LGBTQ and straight, coalition of women. We spoke into the cameras about how we represented a culturally and ethnically diverse American truth.
What’s Going On: Mobilizing Against Gun Violence
When I was in high school, my family moved from a Black Chicago Southside neighborhood fraught with gang tensions to a nice, multiracial middle-class community further south. Yet, my mom and dad still drove my brothers everywhere, so they would not get shot walking to the basketball court or to a friend’s home because of their shoes, their coat, or the color of their shirt. It was the ’70s and Marvin Gaye’s anthem asked the question on the minds of a generation: What’s going on?
Decades later, it is still my question. Six Sikhs killed in worship in Wisconsin. Thirty-three shot dead at Virginia Tech. Twelve killed and 58 injured in a movie theater in Aurora. One teacher and 12 students at Columbine. Six women, eight little boys, and 12 little girls in classrooms in Newtown. Those babies still had their baby teeth. What’s going on?
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, cites these stats in her recent Huffington Post blog: 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence in our nation since 1979. It is as though 4,763 classrooms of young people have been killed by guns. Twenty-two times more children and teens have been killed since 1979 than military personnel in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. That cracks my heart wide open.
The shootings at Sandy Hook took our breath away. We felt in our hearts, this could happen to my child, to my neighbor’s child, and in my community. Unfortunately, in many communities, like my neighborhood in Chicago, we’ve known for a very long time that our children were in the line of fire.