Written by Marj Gillespy
1968 was a turbulent year.
After years of leading Freedom Marches and peaceful demonstrations, the Reverend Martin Luther King was assassinated on May 4 followed by riots in many cities. On June 6, Robert Kennedy was killed. In August, the Democratic National Convention was disrupted by riots led by Students for a Democratic Society and Black Panthers. Almost 17,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam, disproportionately Black Americans who didn’t have the “privilege” of obtaining medical or student deferrals or fleeing to Canada. I was a junior at Penn State in Happy Valley where there were a few demonstrations, but little disruption to getting a degree, the ticket to life beyond Central PA.
It was also the year that the Civil Rights Act passed codifying fair housing, tribal sovereignty and defining hate crimes. Problem solved, right? The Vietnam War eclipsed other issues for several years and when it was over, there was a sense of relief and a desire to move on. Racism smoldered and occasionally flared. But after living in Philadelphia (the North), Florida (the South) and now Seattle (the progressives), it became obvious to me that racism and injustice were everywhere, both in us and among us.
As I ponder what this means for my life, my church and my city in 2020, I have been humbled
and encouraged by the responses of our leadership and brothers and sisters in Christ. I also have tried to reflect on how I can work through my own issues and how contribute to the efforts of fellow believers in building the Kingdom. Here are some thoughts.
Educate ourselves and our children.
Many excellent suggestions have been put forth in other posts regarding books, movies, etc to help us understand these issues. Several children’s books explore the lives of people of color, including men and women who have engaged the civil rights struggle Also consider visiting the Northwest African American Museum and Wing-Luke Museum when they re-open.
Donate our stimulus check (or any amount) to support businesses of Black Americans and other people of color.
See Jason Davison’s recommendations here.
Support Trinity’s efforts to serve Adams Elementary, Sacred Road and other Deacon Ministries.
Express thanks and encouragement to our pastoral staff in speaking out on social justice issues.
Consider offering VBS Reachout Adventures training to leaders of other churches, where culturally appropriate, as a means of spreading the Gospel in those communities.
Education & Equity
Encourage students of color who may not be able to afford college to pursue community college where there is an emphasis on having students succeed. Support FareStart and other community training programs.
Elect government leaders at all levels who have a commitment and a plan to work toward social justice. Hold our leaders accountable to their commitment.
Support police reform and citizen oversight of police departments.
Officers need a longer period of training, ongoing education and more emphasis on community engagement and methods of non-violent de-escalation.