Segregation

Image via JP Keenan/Sojourners. 

You listen to her tell the story — then listen to her tell it again
You want to learn her story by heart so you never forget
what she told that interviewer about the time she was arrested
for protesting — when she was just seventeen.

Samuel Son 10-26-2017

In the American church, where the right of the individual is sacrosanct, the ability to choose a church is protected with greater vigilance than the possible immoral consequences of that choice. The current segregation of congregations continues to be perpetrated and justified by the idolatry of choice.

Image via RNS/Yonat Shimron

More than 60 years ago, the divinity school denied him admission because he is black. Speaking at a service in Goodson Chapel, he asked: “What is it that God would have Duke Divinity School do in light of that history? For if one is not honest about that history, one can’t be fully present.”

Courtney Ariel 10-17-2017

1. Let’s start with this — if you are not a person who ethnically identifies as black (truly black — please miss me entirely with any Rachel Dolezal references), you cannot use the N-word. Not in a song. Not ever. I am not going to apologize for this. I am not going to engage in conversations about “rights” as it relates to freedom of speech. You do not have the right to comment on how this word is used by black people within the black community. This word has been bought and paid for through the hundreds of thousands of bodies/lives. I fully recognize that entitlement doesn’t ever want to be told what it can and cannot hold. But entitlement has blood on its hands that it has not yet truly begun to atone for, so I want to say this (and please hear me): This word does not belong to you.

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.)

Joe Kay 8-22-2017

Has your pastor addressed the events of Charlottesville directly? Did they say that the racism and white supremacy are evil and contrary to everything that Jesus taught and lived?

Da'Shawn Mosley 2-22-2017

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

“Here at NASA, we all pee the same color,” says Harrison.

But this scene never happened. Harrison never took a crowbar to a “Colored Ladies Room” sign. He never solved Johnson’s dilemma of having limited accessibility to a legal bathroom. Harrison’s action is a fabrication framed as history, one that could easily be recognized as an insidious white savior narrative created and advanced by the white people who made the film.

Gary Hall 1-18-2017

Image via RNS/Francisco Daum via Creative Commons

Washington National Cathedral was founded in 1907 and envisioned as a “Westminster Abbey for America,” which, in part, is why it finds itself at the center of controversy about its role in President-elect Donald J. Trump’s impending inauguration.

For more than a century, the cathedral has tried to stand in two worlds at once, attempting to be both a practicing Christian church and a gathering place for American civic expression. As the cathedral’s former dean, I believe that fidelity to the former role now requires rejecting the latter.

Image via CatMax Photography / RNS

Pastors Frederick Haynes and George Mason both lead Baptist churches in Dallas, but they had never met until the not-guilty verdict in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin brought them together in 2013.

Now the two men — one the leader of a predominantly black megachurch, the other of a mostly white congregation — have signed a “covenant of action” spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter.

Dianne Glave 1-13-2016

Growing up African American in Queens, New York, I had access to the outdoors in many ways — a unique benefit for many African-American children. From childhood, I frequently attended ball games at the Mets’ Shea Stadium, and Brookville Park was quickly accessible on foot or by bike from my home in Rosedale. At both places, I benefited from sunshine and recreation. There, I did not have to worry about resistance or violence. But for many African Americans, access to outdoor and recreational space, including parks, has been complex. My own scholarship has been a study of eco-resistance and violence in green spaces by and against African Americans.

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

The massacre of nine African-American worshippers during a Bible study at a church in Charleston, S.C., earlier this year has led black and white churches to come together in an effort to improve race relations.

On Dec. 15, the Conference of National Black Churches, a decades-old black church organization, hosts the latest such interracial religious gathering in the city where the shooting occurred in June.

More than 300 clergy and community leaders are expected to attend the three-day (Dec. 15-17) conference. It will include a worship service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the place where the Bible study was being held. Dylann Roof, the white suspect in the killings, who had hoped to “start a race war,” has been charged with federal hate crimes.

Adam Phillips 3-09-2015
Historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., loneroc / Shutterstock.com

Historic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., loneroc / Shutterstock.com

Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ - John 2:15,16

This is one of the most important stories in the life of Jesus. So important, that it’s one of a handful of stories that all four Gospel writers actually all share.

Even though they remember it differently.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke — they recall that this episode where Jesus entered the Temple grounds and stirred stuff up once and for all — they remember it near the end of his life. They place it as one of the main reasons that Jesus is arrested and put to death as a capitol offense against the Roman Empire.

Walking into the Temple — run by the Jewish religious elite who had been put in place by the Roman imperial oppressors — was tantamount into walking into a federal government building and blowing it up.

Except Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus is a pacifist. Jesus is a prophet.

2-10-2015
We still live largely in a segregated society — one where life’s events are played out before two separate audiences whose interpretations of them will be far different — unable to be reconciled even by people with good intentions and who feel they harbor no racial prejudice.
Photo via Paramount Pictures / RNS.

David Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Selma." Photo via Paramount Pictures / RNS.

On the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15), just as the civil rights drama Selma was nominated for best picture in the Oscar race, one fact of American life was little changed.

Sunday morning remains, as King once observed, the most segregated hour in America. And, against a backdrop of increased racial tensions, new research shows that most Americans are OK with that.

Two in three (66 percent) Americans have never regularly attended a place of worship where they were an ethnic minority, according to new polling analysis released by LifeWay Research.

“People like the idea of diversity. They just don’t like being around different people,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Nashville, Tenn.-based research firm. 

“Maybe their sense is that church is the space where they don’t have to worry about issues like this,” he said. But that could be a problem, because, Stetzer said, “If you don’t like diversity, you’re really not going to like heaven.” 

Melissa Krull 8-04-2014

Where is the resolve among us to make lasting change for all children?

FAME studio mic

The glory of the FAME studio had its roots in the deep shame of rural Southern poverty.

They were among the youngest martyrs of the civil rights movement, four young black girls — three 14-year-olds and one 11-year-old — whose deaths in a church basement horrified a nation already torn apart by segregation.

This week, 50 years after the Ku Klux Klan bombing at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., shook hopes for a colorblind country, the four girls are getting their due.

Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Tuesday (Sept. 10), a day after a piece of shattered stained glass from the church was donated to the Smithsonian.

Christian Piatt 8-29-2013
by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia

Map of Racial Distribution in Detroit, by Dustin Cable at University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King immortalized many phrases still used in the contemporary American lexicon. But it was on Dec. 17, 1963 in a talk at Western Michigan University when he noted that the “most segregated hour in this nation” is 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Though many of King’s other famous quotes come from scripted speeches, the comment above actually was from part of a question-and-answer session with students and faculty about racial integration. He was asked if he believed that true racial integration must be spearheaded by the Christian churches, rather than in workplaces or on college campuses.

Suffice it to say that Dr. King begged to differ, and sadly, his words spoken 50 years ago ring eerily prophetic as we scan the halls of most of our churches. What he claimed then is still, today, a stark reality. He went on in his response:

“I’m sure that if the church had taken a stronger stand all along, we wouldn’t have many of the problems that we have. The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body.” 

But how? About the same time King made these keen observations, white people were leaving the inner cities by the millions, establishing more homogenous suburbs on the far boundaries of town. So-called “white flight” took hold, creating entirely new municipalities, while decaying urban centers were hollowed out, left only with an aging infrastructure and those who had no choice but to endure being left to fend for themselves.

As such, our churches were, in some ways, byproducts of the communities in which they found themselves.

the Web Editors 8-28-2013
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama speaks to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Editor's Note: The following is a transcript of President Barack Obama's speech from the Lincoln Memorial on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

We rightly and best remember Dr. King’s soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike.  His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.

But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.  Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters.  They lived in towns where they couldn’t vote and cities where their votes didn’t matter.  They were couples in love who couldn’t marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home.  They had seen loved ones beaten, and children fire-hosed, and they had every reason to lash out in anger, or resign themselves to a bitter fate.

Kim Lawton 5-02-2013
Photo courtesy Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Child marchers, sprayed with fire hoses in May 1963. Photo courtesy Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In May 1963, thousands of Birmingham school children faced police dogs, fire hoses, and possible arrest to demonstrate against segregation. Now, 50 years later, those who were part of what became known as the “Children’s March” say they don’t want their story to be forgotten.

“We were doing this not just for ourselves but for some higher purpose,” said one of the young marchers, Freeman Hrabowski III. “It focused on civil rights for all Americans.”

Hrabowski is now president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He was 12 when he marched in Birmingham and was arrested for parading without a permit. He and hundreds of other children were held in custody for five days before being released.

Experts say the children’s crusade helped galvanize the civil rights struggle at a time when efforts were flagging.

“That was really the tipping point in a tipping year,” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, who has written a series of books about the civil rights movement, told the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.”

Watch Birmingham and the Children’s March on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

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