Dr. Cecil L. 'Chip' Murray's First A.M.E. Church and Rev. Kenneth C. Ulmer's Faithful Central Baptist Church are both located in South Central Los Angeles. Murray's church was the meeting place for religious leaders during the riots, and a center for relief efforts and organizing. Murray and Ulmer were interviewed in LA for Sojourners by Brian Sellers-Petersen, California regional organizer of Bread for the World when this article appeared.
- The Editors
Sellers-Petersen: What are your impressions of the disturbances in Los Angeles?
Murray: They were America's wake-up call. A wake-up call is loud, insistent, annoying, and often belligerent--especially to a person who's sleeping. But the switchboard doesn't just call you capriciously. Those disturbances were sent for by two centuries of neglect of a portion of American citizens.
If the truth be told, some of those fires in LA were set by African Americans. But even as we give them credit for setting the fires, we cannot give them credit for starting the fires. Those fires were started when the framers of the Constitution set fire to the law of liberty by not including us in their proclamation. They were caused by two centuries of inequity before the law. Because anybody who makes a mockery of the law is setting fire to the household that the people live in.
Sellers-Petersen: What's the context for your churches' involvement in these events?