Civil Rights

Jennifer Harvey 9-22-2017

If you went to church after Charlottesville, DACA, or the latest racial violence in your community, and were disappointed your pastor didn't speak, then it's time for you to act. Sitting and not liking what’s going on matters as much now as it did to stay in a segregated church back then. It’s time for you to find others in the congregation who are also disappointed. It’s time for you to go to your pastor and other leaders in the church. It’s time to insist he/she begin to speak justice — gospel — from the pulpit. (Pastors, it’s time for you to find those in your congregation who will stand with you as you do the same.)

Image via Dawn Stephens/ RNS 

Father: The necessity of the black church, the African-American church, I think is continuing and compelling. We in my generation depended on the delivery of the Word from the individual but we did not take advantage of all of the technology that was becoming big. I think in this age we must utilize all of the technology plus imagination and all of the equipment that’s available to us to communicate, to involve and to be relevant and liberating both in our word and in our deed.

the Web Editors 5-02-2017

Image via REUTERS/Randall Hill/File Photo

The civil rights case of Slager's involvement in Scott's death was slated to go to trial later this month. Slager faces several charges in the death of Walter Scott, including lying to fellow law enforcement officers about details of the incident. Moments following Walter Scott’s death were captured on video, and in the video Slager places an object besides Scott’s body — suspected to be his Taser, which would go against Slager’s account that Scott took Slager’s Taser.

Image via Reuters

A U.S. federal judge in Virginia ruled on March 24 that President Donald Trump's travel ban was justified, increasing the likelihood the measure will go before the Supreme Court, as the decision took an opposing view to courts in Maryland and Hawaii that have halted the order.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga rejected arguments by Muslim plaintiffs, who claimed Trump's March 6 executive order temporarily banning the entry of all refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries was discriminatory.

Jenna Barnett 3-08-2017

Dorothy Height in 1995. Image via Elvert Barnes/Flickr.

Height is something of an unsung hero to both the civil rights and women’s rights movements, largely because of the sexism within the civil rights movement and the racism within the women rights movement. According to the New York Times, Height is “widely credited as the first person in the modern civil rights era to treat the problems of equality for women and equality for African-Americans as a seamless whole, merging concerns that had been largely historically separate.”

Image via RNS/Creative Commons

The neighborhood has long been home to numerous historic and not-so-historic houses of worship of nearly every size and type. Here you can find congregations of Muslims, Hebrew Israelites, AMEs, Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and everything else in between.

So who cares if a few churches have to be razed to make Harlem “great again,” right?

I do.

Diane Johnson 2-13-2017

I believe some from the older generations who were a part of the civil rights era have forgotten their roots in civil disobedience. Instead of inviting young people to be a part of planning, they speak from podiums, give grand introductions, tout their lengthy titles and positions held. Many are resentful and critical of younger activists. They believe the news media’s portrayal of Black Lives Matter instead of getting to know who these young people are.

Lisa Sharon Harper 12-21-2016

On election night, I hunkered down in my living room, eyes glued to the television, waiting for the announcement. When talking heads announced that Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Donald Trump, my body shook — literally. I could not control it. I had never experienced anything like it. A cry rose from the pit of my stomach and quickly turned into a primal scream.

Richard Mouw 12-14-2016

Some of my friends have been talking about giving up the “evangelical” label, because of what it has come to be associated with, in this year’s political campaign. I’m not ready to make that move. I spent a good part of the 1960s trying hard not to be an evangelical, but without success.

When I marched for civil rights during my graduate school years, I helped to organize “ban the bomb” marches and protested the Vietnam War. I was clearly out of step with much of the evangelicalism of the day.

John Lewis. Image via Marion S. Trikosko / Library of Congress 

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will give its highest honor to a lion of the American civil rights movement, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

Lewis will be presented with the Elie Wiesel Award at the museum on May 4. Chairman Tom A. Bernstein lauded Lewis in a statement as a leader of “extraordinary moral and physical courage” and “an inspiration to people of conscience the world over.”

Vasu Mohan 4-01-2016

Image via Robert Joyce papers, 1952-1973 / flickr.com

The Bahá'í writings say that human beings are like mines rich in gems of inestimable value and that one of the purposes of this earthly life is to discover our God-given gems, polish them, and bring them out to serve humanity. Today I write about a wonderful woman who has offered her many incredible gems in service.

Tim Darragh 3-17-2016

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the decision by Bernards Township authorities to deny a Muslim community’s application to build a mosque in the township, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Newark has confirmed. The investigation will look into whether the township violated the rights of members of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge over its prolonged, and ultimately failed, application to build a mosque on Church Street, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

the Web Editors 11-19-2015

Indiana State Capitol. Image via Jimmy Emerson, DVM / flickr.com

In the legislation, the state’s schools and businesses would be allowed to write their own policies on the use of bathrooms or showers based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They also could decide for themselves what dress code to impose on students and workers.

Under the bill, those rules wouldn’t count as discriminatory.

House and Senate Democrats have called for simpler solution, saying a fix could be had by adding four words and a comma: “sexual orientation, gender identity” to the Indiana’s civil rights law.

Kimberly Winston / RNS

Pope Francis passes the crowd along the street of Philadelphia on September 27, 2015. Photo via Kimberly Winston / RNS

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States last week was a huge hit with the media and with the public. This week, Americans may have wondered whether he would provide ongoing unity and inspiration for our public discourse, or whether we would return to culture warring and ideological sniping.

Liberals inside and outside the Catholic Church noted that the pope made only brief allusions to abortion and same-sex marriage but spoke at length about immigration, climate change, and economic inequality.

Yet as progressives were ebullient, news broke Sept. 29 that Pope Francis met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refuses to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Image via /Shutterstock

Today is the 50th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act, passed Aug, 6, 1965. The act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, created key provisions to prevent racial discrimination in voting laws.

The Voting Rights Act has been called "the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress."

Today's anniversary is a bittersweet commemoration. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4, which had required Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia to seek federal approval before imposing changes to voter laws.

Ariana DeNardo 8-06-2015
Barbara Clark

Barbara and husband Andrew at a prime bird-watching spot in Kerala, India. Photo via Barbara Clark

Influenced in her early 20s by the civil rights movement, Barbara learned about Sojourners during the time that she and her husband served in Tanzania with the Peace Corps. Experiences interacting with folks diverse in religious belief and race during this time profoundly influenced her understanding of faith and social justice. She shares that her life has been influenced by Catholics and Mennonites, pagans and Methodists, Anglicans, Quakers, Hindus, and Buddhists: “At the core, a lot of us on the planet are looking for the same thing: to get along with one another, to have enough to eat, [and] to be able to live with some measure of safety and security.”

Abby Olcese 7-24-2015
Screenshot via 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' trailer/YouTube

Screenshot via 'The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution' trailer/YouTube

 

We learned about sit-ins, bus boycotts, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. But when it came to the Black Panthers, I was taught virtually nothing. I can vaguely recall a high school teacher mentioning Huey Newton, and showing photos of John Carlos and Tommie Smith giving the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics. That’s it.

We didn’t hear about the origins of the Black Panthers, or their active improvement of local communities. We didn’t hear about the personalities that created both important exposure and also infighting. We didn’t hear the story of the federal government’s fear of the Panthers or its insidious undercover missions, whose implementation prompted senseless killing and violent responses.

What we didn’t hear, in short, is everything The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution covers.

Renee Gadoua 7-01-2015
World Telegram & Sun / Stanley Wolfson / Library of Congress / RNS

Bayard Rustin speaks to the media in 1965. Photo via World Telegram & Sun / Stanley Wolfson / Library of Congress / RNS

Years before the gay rights movement gained momentum, an openly gay black activist named Bayard Rustin advised Martin Luther King Jr. on nonviolent protest tactics and organized the 1963 March on Washington. But attacks on Rustin’s sexual orientation threatened his role in the civil rights movement.

Rustin died in 1987 at age 75 after decades as an activist and organizer on issues including peace, racial equality, labor rights, and gay rights. He will be remembered for support for LGBT rights during the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration July 2-5 in Philadelphia. The four-day event recalls gay rights activists who demonstrated for equal rights at Independence Hall on the Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969.

The Rev. Gil Caldwell. Photo via Travis Long / RNS

The Rev. Gil Caldwell. Photo via Travis Long / RNS

Caldwell was a “foot soldier” in King’s civil rights army, and he finally made it to Durham, where he closed out a social justice conference focused on a newer movement — the effort to secure full inclusion of LGBT people in the United Methodist Church.

“In some ways there is a possibility that on gay rights and marriage equality, God is speaking more through the judiciary than God is speaking through the United Methodist Church,” Caldwell said in his sermon at a gay-friendly United Methodist church just three miles away from the seminary he said denied him admission.

Photo via flickr

Photo via flickr

"We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.” This Talmudic quote from Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani notes that seeing is not always vision. What we see in life is more than what the eye beholds. A person or circumstances right in front of us can be merely the surface of someone or something more profound.

The United States must forever recall the struggles, moves, and marching of the women and men across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Fifty years ago, ordinary people walked for the right to stand up and be counted. To the naked eye, those sojourners lacked political clout as much as they did fiscal wherewithal. Those citizens were not persons of means, but their intentions were good. They meant well. They meant to do whatever — to get the right to vote.

No whips, dogs, horses, or hoses would stifle their efforts. The Americans who marched from Selma to Montgomery may not have looked like much, but their actions changed this country’s political horizon and racial landscape. Yes, a yearning in their loins propelled them to create social change. They were going to vote at any cost, at any price.

In this week’s lectionary passage, a man crippled from birth wanted “change.” Actually, he wanted coins or any alms that Peter and John could offer (Acts 3:1-11). To this man, the two disciples were in better shape than he was. From his view, he could surely benefit from whatever they had to offer. Yet, Peter exposes their impecunious state: “Look on us. We don’t have a nickel to our names.”

There was nothing spectacular or dazzling about Peter or John.

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