It is a sad commentary on our society that we must still discuss the rise of racism and bigotry in 2020. I doubt that Dr. King believed that it would take this long for things in our nation to change. Frederick Douglas and Harriett Tubman likely thought that by this point in history racism would be a thing of the past.
Yet, we continue to fight for equality and justice for people of color. Dr. King in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail wrote: ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
Even today, injustice continues to thrive everywhere. Our family and friends marching for equality and justice are routinely called “outside agitators”. And people who came to this nation as children are considered outsiders.
Dr. King continued from his jail cell: ” I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom…”
This week I fought against the same moderates in the church that Dr. King referred to. Our parish and our denomination (the Old Catholic Churches International) continues to raise our voices and use our privilege to call for real and meaningful change. However, many of our fellow Christians continue to call for people to sit down and keep quiet. They call on people to wait just a little bit longer for equality.
How much longer must our beloved wait for equality? How much longer will they be denied justice?
Today we honor Juneteenth. This day hearkens back to June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation when Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. It took 2 1/2 years for the word of freedom to finally reach all those kept in captivity! We stand 155 years later and moderate Christians are still calling for our beloved family and friends to wait just a little bit longer for equality and justice.
Enough is enough. Now is the time. Today is the day of liberation. We can no longer call for people of color to sit down and be patient. We must lock arms with them and march toward the promised land. It is our sacred duty to support them and to use our platform of privilege to demand their equal rights and justice.
And one the ways we do that is by calling out racism and bigotry wherever and whenever it exists. Even when it is white privilege that raises its head to oppress our beloved friends and family. We must not be afraid to call out those who demand that those marching sit down or find other means of protest. And we must also not be afraid to call out those who claim the victims of police violence are somehow in the wrong and deserved their fate.
No longer can the church remain silent on the issue of race. Because to do so is to be complicit in the murder of our family and friends of color. While many Christians and many churches have come a long way, we all still have a long way to go.
Join me in this struggle for equality. Join me in standing with our family and friends yearning to be truly equal and free!