Ferguson protesters challenged the idleness of Black congregations in St. Louis, Missouri on Easter Sunday 2015. Under the hashtag #BlackChurch, protesters acted peacefully in solidarity with group actions across the country to #ReclaimHolyWeek. Inspired by the movements of Black Lives Matter and Ferguson protests, their mission is to create a hub of resources for the “churched and unchurched” to take back the power of Jesus’ narrative from those who use it to oppress God’s people, specifically black and brown. You can view the Millennial Activist United organizing statement for your reference.
It compelled me to share my beliefs and concerns. Those who rather focus on the “narrative of Jesus” and not his real and living purpose as the Christ are far worst than those they seek to call out. Especially when those same protesters call it respectable to forgive those who have wronged you. I understand the need for solidarity but a time such as this I wonder why are people of faith being targeted for protest by those who don’t attend the #BlackChurch? When Kenyan students are slaughtered because they are Christian and Nigerian girls are being leveraged in jihad, American organizers and activists must be attentive to their words and efficient in their direct actions. I agree with MAU and Reclaim Holy Week organizers that as we start this lifelong journey to restoring order and identity, perhaps modeling the strategies and tactics of those we esteem in study and worship should be an immediate focus and start.
Countless servant leaders used protests to shape political landscapes and influence policy action. Their legacies transcended obscurity because of their service to humanity . Considering the principled life and teachings of radical servants like Jesus, (and his faithful disciple Martin Luther King, Jr.) whom protesters cited as impetus for collective action, uprooting unforgiveness was central tenets of their leadership. Their Resurrection Power collided over Easter Weekend 2015 when protesters stood silently at the church waiting for “support.”
Dr. King earned many titles, but he was foremost a Christian pastor. I felt it necessary to use him as an example because of his positioning in the movement which intersects with the Christian millennial activist identity of today. Not many people recognize Dr. King’s identity as a Christian pastor to be the foundation of his approach to reform society. He accepted his call to ministry while finishing doctoral studies at Boston University. He transitioned into his leadership role with excellence when he shared his 34-point plan for the future of the church. He served as the Pastor of Dexter Missionary Baptist Church at the tender age of 25. He effectively ministered to the souls of men in eloquence and included women in strategic planning.
He was a fresh face in leadership when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat one year after he was ordained. Although the seven black denominations of faith were not officially recognized, it was from his training in the Black Church that prepared him for the most significant moments of his life. Catapulted to leadership because of his direct impact on the Black Civil Rights Movement his success exploded overnight like those who are at the helm of present day leader-ful movements. Dr. King learned early the importance of leaning on God in the pursuit of justice, mercy, and wrath. This unwavering faith in the Divine grounded Dr. King in nonviolence activism and influenced others, including Malcolm X, to care about all oppressed people regardless of race, class, or creed.
It was a hot July, summer night in 1957 at Madison Square Garden when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the podium of Billy Graham’s Evangelical Crusade to deliver the night’s Invocation prayer. Dr. King, who was only 26 years old, mustered the courage and faith to stand before thousands without fear of death or retribution to deliver his prayers. Below is an excerpt:
“And in these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, give us penetrating vision, broad understanding, power of endurance and abiding faith, and save us from the paralysis of crippling fear. And oh God, we ask Thee to help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world and for a brotherhood that transcends race or color.”
We, as believers, associate Dr. King’s fearlessness to his faith. By July 1957, Dr. King was a voice of reason and influence. The Montgomery Bus Boycott ended in December 1956 with successful legislation that ended segregation on bus transportation. The momentum gained from the 381-day boycott transformed with the incorporation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in February 1957. At their inaugural conference, the Black Church implored white southerners to see the treatment of Blacks was an immoral spiritual problem. It was because of the tithing and offering of black congregations that the Civil Rights Movement was able to spread their ideology across the United States.
After SCLC’s first major organizing conference in August 1957, one month after Dr. King delivered the invocation at Billy Graham’s crusade, 115 African American leaders collaborated to launch a campaign called the Crusade for Citizenship. In addition to training families on Christian nonviolence and citizenship, SCLC set a zealous goal to register thousands for the 1958 and 1960 elections. Their supreme objective was to compel the nation’s conscience to get out the vote to improve social conditions for blacks.
Undoubtedly, Dr. King’s attempt to Reclaim Holy Week started in 1957 on a summer’s eve in New York at Madison Square Garden. Despite success, Dr. King, his peers, and black congregations nationwide endured hostilities we could not imagine. From home and church bombings up to and including death, those of faith do not have to wonder where Dr. King received this supernatural courage and strength. For it is obvious his rearing in the teachings and gospel of Jesus the Christ prepared him for the ultimate sacrifice. What were those teachings exactly? Forgiveness.
Sure the organizers of #ReclaimHolyWeek have the right elements of Jesus’ ministry: love and justice. But it is in FORGIVENESS that one learns love and justice. If I may share a few scriptures that reflect the teaching of Jesus the Christ on Love and Justice as I have come to learn:
What Jesus taught on LOVE:
1 Peter 3:8-12
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days,let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
In my opinion, those who attempt to incite action from those who are true followers and believers with propaganda and not the Word of God are just as bad as those who use it for vainglory. Without proper context and study of the teachings of Jesus the Christ, I cannot accept this notion that only black and brown are oppressed and offended that they, alone, are deserving of the protection and reclamation. As Colossians 3:8-17 states:
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The real basis for organizing the #BlackChurch is understanding the people of faith have not turned a blind eye or deaf ear to the issues of the land and their leaders have not cowered to a failing gospel. In fact, the spiritual discipline needed to push our world forward has been relegated to the recesses of society. Faith centers should be places of fellowship not protest; not only considered when protests need more bodies. The day is coming when the mind of Christ will be resurrected for all.
The media wants us to believe that all white women and men think like FOX News anchors. The powers that be hope their fear of our brown brethren will turn our hearts cold. We must stay the course of those who fought the good fight of faith and finish the hueman mission. Unearth the evil that continues to oppress all people. Black and brown people in America are a fraction of the oppressed nations from around the world. When all lives realize they are targets, then the real battle for the mind can be won. That is the REAL REVOLUTION in my opinion.
Please hear my heart and overstand, this lifelong journey to restoring order and identity in our nation and world requires an open mind and soft heart to accept and receive this basic premise of our future:
All Lives Matter. Period.