Rev. Yvonne V. Delk, a contributing editor to Sojourners, is editor of Afro-Christian Convention: The Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ. She currently serves as a member of the board of trustees of Franklinton Center at Bricks and is the former executive of the Community Renewal Society of Chicago. She was the first Black woman to be ordained in the United Church of Christ and has served the denomination in leadership positions including serving as the director of its Office for Church in Society. She also served as the moderator of the World Council of Churches’ Program to Combat Racism. For sixty years, she has served as an educator, preacher, organizer, and a prophetic voice leading the fight for human and civil rights for people of color, children, and the poor throughout five continents. She is the founding director of the Center for African American Theological Studies (CAATS).

Posts By This Author

To Move Beyond Denial

by Yvonne V. Delk 08-06-2013

Where do we go from here?

From the denial of racism to the naming and facing of racism.

If we are to move forward, we must acknowledge that racism is alive and well in the American psyche. It continues to function as a demonic force with devastating consequences for us all. To be white in America is to benefit from a system of power and privilege whether or not one has ever uttered a racist thought or committed a racist act.

A Soul on Fire

by Yvonne V. Delk 09-01-2001
In 1851, Sojourner Truth asked a simple question: "Arn't I a Woman?" That question, though 150 years old, turned my world upside down.

Statue of Sojourner Truth in Central Park on Womens Equality Day. Photo: John Nacion via Reuters Connect

In 1851, Sojourner Truth asked a simple question: "Arn't I a Woman?" That question, though 150 years old, turned my world upside down.

A Time For Action

by Yvonne V. Delk 03-01-1998
Building a strategy to dismantle racism.

A Silver Trumpet Passed On

by Yvonne V. Delk 01-01-1997
Jean Sindab's place in history.

By What Authority?

by Yvonne V. Delk 06-01-1993

The lectionary for June calls us to examine the question of authority. We face this question as we assess the meaning of our faith and our ministries.

Breathing Space

by Yvonne V. Delk 05-01-1993

Lectionary reflections for the month of May

To Move Beyond Denial

by Yvonne V. Delk 07-01-1992

Toward a vision of a new community.

A Moment of Turning

by Yvonne V. Delk, by Kathy Osberger 10-01-1991

We are a people on a journey—a journey from centuries of conquest, genocide, and slavery to conversion, repentance, and new history; a journey from exploitation and oppression to a time of turning, healing, reparation, and redirection. When a people are on a journey, there are two inseparable questions: Who am I? Where am I going? Identity and direction.

I struggle with answers that flow out of my distant past when African-American people experienced the whips and the chains, slave ships and auction blocks, plantations, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, separate but equal, bus boycotts, picket lines, and now the racism of the '90s, which continues to manifest itself East, West, North, and South while our president attacks the "politically correct" movement, states in clear terms his view that the government does not have the responsibility to provide for the human welfare of the people, and vetoes the civil rights bill.

The 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America has become the occasion to ask the question of identity and direction for all of us who have been touched and shaped by the world-changing realities that it set into motion. The world has not been the same since. The impact of Christopher Columbus' arrival on each of our histories in the particular and in the collective created a new world order defined by genocide, conquest, and slavery.

For some of us, this is a kairos moment—a moment of truth, a moment of turning, a moment of redirection and new commitments, a moment to forge covenants that will lead us from the despair of our past and present to the promise and hope of our future.

AS AN AFRICAN AMERICAN, I experience with a great deal of pain the history that was set into motion when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492. Six years later Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. As the indigenous people in the Americas were exterminated, the invaders found themselves forced to locate an alternative labor force to continue the exploitation of the vast resources. They turned to Africa as a supply base of labor.

It was in 1518 that a Spanish ship carried the first cargo of our people from the Guinea Coast to the Americas. This opened a slave trade that was to endure for three-and-a-half centuries. The human cost is staggering. Some statistics put the total number of Africans who lost their lives during the middle passage (or before by resisting capture) at 200 million. The number of our people who reached the Americas as slaves was in the tens of millions.