Blessings To You All Dear Church!
I want to try out something new. It’s a brand-new idea that has come to me and to be completely honest, I don’t yet have it fully fleshed out. But dear friends, this was one of those idea sparks that once it hit, kindled a brainstorm that hasn’t yet settled. And before things get too carried away in my harried brain, I want to include all of you and invite you into the creative process! Because as I have been thinking about this idea, each and every one of you is a key aspect. So, what is it!?
Well it’s no secret that we’ve all been aching to see more of one another, to be with one another more. It’s also no secret that we are currently living within and experiencing one of the most tumultuous yet life-altering experiences of our lifetime. Nearly every aspect of the ways in which we live is being re-shaped from public health and healthcare to history and cultural dynamics as we confront and finally grapple with one of the most egregious sins of our country: that of white-supremacy and the racism that still stems and exists in the instructions from the time of slavery, before the country was even founded.
I still don’t have definitive conclusions to offer or say about the things we are experiencing. It is history unfolding in front of us. And one of the things that we have committed to doing as we continue the work of anti-racism is to listen. Listen not only to the many and varied voices that haven’t been heard for too long, but to also listen to one another. So, for the remainder of this space today I will share with you my idea, but I will also highlight a voice I listened to this week that for me opened and broadened my perspectives on a part of history I thought I knew well.
So, first! As we commit to this vital and gospel grounded work, listening is central to that and I had a spark of an idea of how we can listen to one another in a fun way. I’ve called this idea ‘The Master’s Minute’ and I envision them to be video snippets, about a minute or so in length, where we would share our various answers to a question of the week, or our reactions to a reading, or …you name it! Like I said, this idea is still quite fresh, and I don’t yet know how it may develop or exactly where it will go.
But I do want a way for us all to be able to share our stories with one another in a short, yet effective way. Because our own stories, our histories, are the core pieces that make up who we are, that make up our identities. Our stories are important and precious. When God says in Genesis, “let us make humankind in our image,” it is in part my understanding that the story of God, the story of salvation is what God is referring to. Our stories are intricately interconnected and linked with God’s. I think that is something we all ought to hear.
So, for our first ‘Master’s Minute’ I would like for you all take a short video clip of yourself answering this question, “what is your favorite story from scripture and why?” Then, once you have yourself recorded, send it in to us here at the church office, or you can message our church Facebook page too 🙂 I want to share them in a variety of ways with you all, so that we can all hear and learn from one another! I’m quite excited to see where this project will go!
Secondly, I want to share another item I think we can all benefit from as we listen and learn. I want to share with you a post from author and poet Michael Harriot. I’ll include links to his website and to the thread where this post originated. In this thread Michael speaks on the deeper history of one of his greater inspirations and not smoothing its edges for history’s or our sakes to make it more palatable. It’s a post that opened my eyes and I hope you take the time to take in Michael’s words. (Content Notice for language when he refers to speaks about Civil Rights leader James Forman)
Peace & Blessings Dear Church,
From Michael Harriot: A post on MLK and the way History has remembered the Civil Rights Era:
Link to Michael Harriot’s Website: https://www.michaelharriot.com
Link to this actual thread on Twitter: A lot of what you’re told about protests, MLK, etc. is wrong. A thread.
So much of history has been whitewashed for the sake of making it palatable for white consumption that we are starting to perpetuate things that are not only misconceptions, but outright lies. A lot of what you’re told about protests, MLK, etc. is wrong.
I drove past a protest on the lawn of a local police department on Saturday and later saw a news report that described it as “peaceful” and “non-violent” and said MLK would be proud. Not really, though.
That wasn’t really MLK’s thing. I get it. No one mentions MLK without mentioning his stance on nonviolence. But that’s not really how MLK worked. MLK used TWO phrases to describe his work more than any other:
Contrary to what you’ve been told. MLK wasn’t about marching and protesting to bring awareness to a cause. Every move he made was a calculated strategic move towards a DIRECT GOAL.
Sorry, guys. MLK wasn’t about going to protest in a designated area and playing by the rules. His goal was to make people uncomfortable and cause chaos. He ADVOCATED breaking the law. It’s almost like no one ever read the Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King] where he said all of this:
“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” [King]
“It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” [King]
He didn’t want it to be violent, but he wanted to be contentious. They wanted a confrontation. It was part of the plan. John Lewis still calls it “good trouble.” You can’t have civil disobedience without DISOBEDIENCE
“You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern … One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’” [King]
For example: The Montgomery Bus boycott was an effort to impose an economic sanction on the bus company. The state strictly forbade them from organizing boycotts, but they did it anyway. It was a DIRECT ACTION against the rule, not a symbolic gesture.
The black people in Montgomery PAID for the buses that dehumanized them. It wasn’t a demonstration for demonstration’s sake. AND it was only PART of a strategy that included NAACP attorney Fred Gray filing the lawsuit Browder v. Gayle to stop segregation on city buses.
AND, despite what you were taught, the Montgomery Bus Boycott didn’t end segregation on Montgomery city buses, it was the COURT CASE that changed the city buses…Kinda. See, the untold story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is that it didn’t stop segregation on Montgomery buses
Two days after the boycott ended, a white supremacist fired a shotgun at MLK. The next day, on Christmas Eve, a black girl was attacked for riding a bus. 4 days after that, racists attacked 2 buses and shot a pregnant woman. 2 weeks later, the Klan started bombing black churches. So, what happened? Well, the city stopped bus services. And when it resumed, guess what happened? Rosa parks had to leave the city. And black people started sitting on the back of the buses just to be safe. Black people didn’t really sit anywhere on city buses until the 70s
What did you learn about Selma to Montgomery March on Bloody Sunday? That black people in Ala. tried to march for voting rights but Alabama state troopers attacked. Then they marched again, and congress passed the Voting Rights Act. But that’s not really what happened. The Selma to Montgomery march wasn’t a symbolic demonstration. It wasn’t even an original idea. See, black ppl all over Ala. were attacked when they tried to register to vote. So local organizers would get large groups of people to march to their respective courthouses.
That’s how those marches started. They weren’t protesting. They were GOING TO REGISTER. And they figured: “If we’re in a group, they can’t beat us all.” But y’all know white people. They will definitely try their best. I think they call it “American exceptionalism.”
They were headed to Montgomery to confront the governor in person and demand their right to vote when Bloody Sunday happened. But here’s the part about the Selma to Montgomery marches most people are never told: It was NOT nonviolent.
See, after Bloody Sunday, MLK came down to organize a second march. But the SAME state troopers still planned to open a can of whip-ass. So, what did MLK do? He turned the whole march around. That’s where James Forman came in.
James Forman is one of the civil rights leaders you don’t hear about because he wasn’t with that “getting-his-skull-cracked” shit. Plus, he never wore a civil rights suit He wore overalls. Forman often disagreed with MLK because he figured: “You don’t even go here!”
Why be nonviolent in the face of violence? Plus, he thought MLK was a figurehead who didn’t understand what people on the ground knew: They were never gonna get their voting rights unless they fought back.
So, Forman’s peeps, along with some students from Tuskegee who weren’t about that shit said “fuck this. We’re getting across that bridge.” So, on the THIRD march, Forman and his folks had bricks, sticks and dress cans of whip-ass for the cops. They made it across.
MANY of the politicians who voted for the Voting Rights Act said THIS was the thing that made them vote for it — the fact that we were fighting back. It wasn’t nonviolence It was, in part the prospect of violence that passed the VRA
Now, Forman was friends with Robert F. Williams, who is in my top 5 Civil Rights heroes of all time. Simply put, Robert F Williams was a bad motherfucker. But before I begin, I wanna tell you about one of the craziest stories in the entire civil rights movement.
In 1958, a 7-year-old white girl named Sissy Marcus told her parents that she had kissed 2 black boys on their cheeks. Her parents told the police. The police arrested the boys for rape. They were 7 & 9 years old. This happened in Monroe, NC, which had one of the largest chapters of the KKK in the country. in a town of 12,000, the chapter had a reported 7,500 members. The town also had a large NAACP chapter. And the reason why, was important.
Robert F. Williams had served in the marines. When he returned from WWII, he was joined the NAACP, but they barely had any members because the people were afraid of the Klan. So Robert F Williams decided to do something about it. He built an army. He organized 50 -60 black men and created the “Black Armed Guard. “We often talk about the Deacons for Defense and the Panthers, but the Black Armed Guard was perhaps the most influential of these groups.
In 1957, the KKK decided to attack the NAACP vice president, who was also the town’s only black physician. They went to the house to do a drive-by and saw it was surrounded with sandbags to stop the gunfire. But the Klansmen fired anyway. But it wasn’t just sandbags. The Black Armed Guard was waiting behind the sandbags and opened fire on the KKK. Not only did the Klan never fuck with the NAACP in Monroe again, but the city passed an ordinance that required the Klan to get a permit every time they wanted to meet.
So when the boys were arrested in the Kissing Case, Robert F Williams got the whole world involved. Police beat the boys for a week until they confessed. A judge sentenced the boys to imprisonment until they were adults. But Williams got the whole world involved and the Black Armed Guard protected the boy’s parents. They literally had shootouts with the Klan. The parents of the kids said they had. to “sweep mounds of bullets off their porches.”
Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out. So did leaders across the world. After a year, the boys were pardoned by the governor because no judge would overturn the sentence. The city and the state have still never apologized.
But this is what made Monroe, NC one of the hubs of the civil rights movement. It became the home base for the Freedom Rides because the KKK knew not to fuck with the Black Armed Guard. In fact, the whole black section of Monroe basically just stopped letting white people enter
Then one night, in 1961 a white couple got lost in the black part of town in Monroe. Robert told them to stay at his house because he didn’t want them to run into anyone who mistook them for Klansmen. The couple were grateful But the KKK police & Hoover’s FBI convinced the couple to say Williams had kidnapped them. The FBI put out a warrant. But people across the US helped him escape to Cuba. He wrote the book “Negroes With Guns” that influenced the Panthers.
When he returned in ’69, NC dropped all charges after activists rallied support. Williams died in 1996. There were a lot of people who eulogized him at his funeral. And a lot of info came out. It turns out, Williams was in Selma at that third bridge crossing with his homeboy James Forman. He had protected the Freedom Riders. He had protected the Kissing Case Boys. And there was a woman from Ala. who said that he was the one who made her feel safe.
Now this woman was a lifelong activist, but she was mostly a radical. She was raised in the Marcus Garvey movement. She always fought for her people and was known as not being scared of shit. But at the funeral, she said she might not have been able to do what she did if Robert Williams, her lifelong friend hadn’t always promised that no one would ever hurt her. And he lived up to her promise. And that’s why she was able to be brave.
Her name was Rosa Parks