Full of Grace and Truth

Jimmy McGee, who works with inner-city immersion projects with InterVarsity in Atlanta, often discussed approaches to racial reconciliation with his friend Spencer Perkins. McGee says he agrees with the goal of racial reconciliation, but believes that justice must be pursued before true reconciliation is possible. In this way, Spencer Perkins and Jimmy McGee continued a long tradition of debate in the African-American community, most commonly associated with W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. McGee was interviewed by phone by Aaron McCarroll Gallegos on August 12. -The Editors

Many whites chose Martin Luther King Jr. over Malcolm X, though they disliked both. Martin represented nonviolence and had a loving relationship. Malcolm’s passion appeared to be volatile. This is where Spencer and I were parallel to Martin and Malcolm. Both Spencer and I wanted reconciliation. But I first wanted justice. Spencer was concerned that blacks were getting away with not contributing anything to the process of reconciliation.

However, I have moved in Spencer’s direction and feel that forgiveness needs to be part of the process. Forgiveness is helpful for African Americans, whether whites repent and give us justice or not. Because in the end, if we don’t forgive, we die twice.

The issue isn’t hatred, but bitterness. Scripture talks about a root of bitterness that destroys a person. It not only affects the person who this anger is directed at. It affects the whole of the life of the person who holds it. It destroys their relationship with their families, their marriages, their friendships, their church relationships, even their relationship with God. We need to seek forgiveness to be healed in this process, whether racism ceases or not. This is what I think Spencer was trying to tell us. As African Americans, we need to live a life of forgiveness.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine November-December 1998
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe