Working for Racial Justice
speaker calls for truth and reconciliation commission
WCRC should 'seek ways to make restitution to
by Jerry Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A renowned Native
American leader appealed to the newly created World Communion of
Reformed Churches to establish a truth and reconciliation-like
commission to "seek ways to make restitution to tribal people"
for the churches' complicity in "co-opting the Bible as a tool
of colonialism and imperialism" in North America over the last
Richard Twiss, a Lakota/Sioux originally from
South Dakota and now living near Portland, Ore., said such a
commission — comprising indigenous people from North America and
the global South — is necessary to overcome "cowboy theology,"
which he said has perpetuated "a distinct evangelical bias
against Native and indigenous culture and ways."
The "demonizing" of Native religious
expressions means that "most (Native American) people reject
Christianity because they consider it a white man’s religion,"
Twiss said, "and it breaks my heart because Jesus is the hope of
the world in all its brokenness."
Twiss, who became Christian in 1974 while in
the depths of drug and alcohol addiction, said “following Jesus
started out very simple ... but then becoming a Christian became
very complicated” as institutionalized churches insisted that
Native American cultural and religious expressions were
unacceptable. "I had to change my clothes, cut my hair, play
different musical instruments — just a drum wasn’t good enough
anymore. We were never allowed and never learned to
contextualize the gospel in our culture," he said.
The story of Native American suppression "is
the worst occurrence of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the
history of the world," Twiss said. War and disease reduced the
Native population in North America from some 50 million in 1400
to barely 230,000 in 1895. "But perhaps what makes the story
most tragic is that so much of this was the result of the
misappropriation of the biblical narrative that was co-opted as
a tool of colonial imperialism."
But Twiss sees signs of hope in the emerging
missiological model called "missio Dei" ("mission of God"),
which, he said, "points to the radical communal nature of God"
rather than focusing on the institutional nature of the church.
"God's very nature is missionary. It is not
primarily about the propagation or transmission of intellectual
convictions, doctrines, moral commands, but rather about the
inclusion of all creation in God’s overflowing, superabundant
life of communion," he said.
In "missio Dei," Twiss said, “indigenous
people find a place of identity, belonging, value, peace,
justice and affirmation — Shalom. Can we re-imagine a new or
changed future where people are living out their faith in Jesus
in light ... together as fellow learners and co-equal
participants in the life, work and mission of Jesus?"
PCA confronts its racist past
Southern Poverty Law Center comes an interesting look at the
conservative Presbyterian Church in America.
The Presbyterian Church in America is
struggling to confront the old demon of racism, which was at the
center of a case in the Friendship Presbyterian Church (PCA)
near Asheville, N.C. In 2007 an elder in the congregation, Neill
Payne, sent an e-mail to 19 people including some members of the
church and the pastor, in which he cited a British article
declaring that blacks were incapable of governing themselves in
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and that their intelligence is clearly
inferior to that of whites. The pastor, the Rev. Craig Bulkeley,
urged that such racist beliefs could not be accepted, and
ultimately Payne resigned from the church rather than face
charges of the sin of racism.
The conflict has continued, with Payne’s
supporters calling for the resignation of the pastor, and
ultimately cases have been taken to the presbytery and to PCA’s
24-member Standing Judicial Commission, its highest court.
While Payne and his defenders have some
support, the majority of voices and actions seem to show that
the PCA is conscientiously rejecting the racial attitudes that
have formed a part of the culture of many churches in the South.
The article concludes:
For its part, Friendship is starting to
see more faces at its worship services now that [Payne and
his relatives] aren't attending. And that's especially
gratifying for the PCA leaders who have been battling racism
in their pews. "It's not enough to simply not commit sins of
commission," [said the Rev. Jeff Hutchinson, who served as
moderator of the presbytery during the time of the
congregation’s sharp struggles]. "We have to also do the
The full article >>
A litany for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day –
addressing the issue of gun violence
The Presbyterian Peacemaking
Program has just posted a litany written for an interfaith
service celebrating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and
addressing gun violence. Feel free to adapt or use the litany.
If it is used, please include the attribution: Presbyterian
Peacemaking Program, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
For the full text of the litany >>
Thanks to the Rev. Len Bjorkman of the
for calling this to our attention.
history is just known as history
A message to
the PC(USA) from the vice-moderator
by Elder Robert E. Wilson, PC(USA) General Assembly
by Presbyterian News Service
— February 20, 2008 —
Do we need
Black History Month? Yes.
But we need to get back to the original intent of the
Month began as a yearlong study and discussion of
African-American history, with the month of February as the
kickoff. Many say Black History Month is necessary until
textbooks more completely and accurately portray the
contributions Blacks have made.
We need to make
sure books and curricula are upgraded so that schools and
churches can teach Black History the whole year, rather than one
month. Black students, as well as Asians, Native American,
Hispanic/Latino and White students need to know more about
African American culture than just the history associated with
The main thing
they need to know is about the people who were willing to make
that ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
Did you know,
for example, that in 1801 the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian church appointed John Chavis (ca. 1763-1838) as the
first Presbyterian missionary to African-American slaves? A free
Black, Chavis preached to slaves and mixed audiences. He served
as a missionary, teacher, and minister in Virginia from
1801-1807 and in North Carolina from 1807-1832.
We yearn for
the time when African-American History is just known as history.
professes that racism in all its forms is contrary to the gospel
of Jesus Christ? It also acknowledges that racism is a reality
in both church and society. The church is committed to
spiritually confronting the ideology of racism and racial
oppression and working to overcome racism with prayer,
discernment and worship-based action. Last month, on Race
Relations Sunday; we affirmed that Jesus calls us to love in a
world of challenges. God makes us live together. We are not made
for separation; we are made for each other. We are not made for
individuality; we are made for community. We are not made for
division; we are made for love.
every day we confess our complicity in creating and maintaining
love of race throughout life, including within the church. At
the same time, though, we celebrate God’s vision of life
together. We commit to confronting the love of race, and we
renew our intention to live according to God’s vision. And,
ultimately, it is God’s vision that will come to fruition.
It is time to
join in God’s vision. Are you ready? Is your church ready?
The Rev. John Bush suggested that we post this
message, and when we responded,
he added these
helpful musings of his own:
one month a year is about as effective as Race Relations Sunday
one week a year. This is especially true when the primary force
behind Black History Month is left to come from Black
people/historians/spokespersons/media figures. The fact is,
"Black" history is also "white" history, though that reality is
very difficult for us to accept – which is why we keep its study
confined to one dark and dreary winter month rather than letting
it permeate our basic understandings of the nature of the
history of all of us: our culture, and our national and global
experience. When it is less than that – which it is, now – it
is, in itself, inherently racist, but racist because white
people are unwilling to embrace it as our own. As long as we can
keep it segregated in February and not integrated into a
wholistic perspective on history per se, we (the power brokers)
can marginalize it while pretending to be "doing something."
Which is not to
say we should ignore February as "Black History Month." As the
Vice Moderator says, we need it, but we need it for what it was
intended to be. As Robert Wilson indicates, we must use this
month to begin a wholistic study of the history of our nation,
culture, society and world. That does not break out neatly into
racially-defined "specialties," though the specialists have much
to contribute to the process.
In other words,
all of us and each of us contribute(s) to the evolving reality
we call "history," and must eventually come to understand that
we are inherently part of the whole.
The Rev. John Bush is Honorably Retired, and lives in Decatur ,
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks to our condition
convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world
revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of
values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a
'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights
are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of
racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being
-- speech at Riverside Church,
New York, 1967
Reclaiming King: Beyond "I Have a Dream"
People usually focus on the
historic "I Have a Dream" speech, but it's the work King was
doing at the end of his life that deserves more attention.
Adam Howard, an editor with AlterNet, the son
of a “a Black Baptist preacher in the King tradition.”
During the final two years of his life, King took
on the far more complex de facto racism of northern cities like
Chicago, addressed labor inequality, and took a very bold and
highly criticized stance against the Vietnam War.
The full essay >>
White Liberals Have White Privilege Too!
Alex Jung, an editorial intern at AlterNet, and an
Asian-American, explores a reality many of us would like to
ignore. He begins:
It often seems that the only way liberals can talk about
race is to encircle the "racists" and point at them --
either for a laugh or a morality tale. The former is one of
the many tricks that faux news personality Stephen Colbert
employs in his caricature of a conservative. His racist
schtick makes fun of racists, and there's a comfortable
distance between the satire and the show's mostly liberal
viewers. The critique goes down easy because it represents
something the viewer isn't.
On the other hand, the website
featuring a liberal white couple, Johnny and Sally, enters
murkier territory. Well-intentioned Johnny and Sally hang
out with their black friends, who, as the namesake
indicates, love them. Part of the site's subversion
-- and subsequent confusion -- comes from the fact that its
humor is not so separate from liberal Americana. We could
meet a Johnny and Sally at a cocktail party, and maybe
already have. One black "friend's" testimonial -- "Johnny is
generous enough to remark upon how 'articulate' I am! That
makes me feel good!" -- carries a zesty punch in light of
Joe Biden's recent remarks
on Barack Obama.
At these satires' roots is a distinction between challenging
a Don Imus-type racism and the investment in something
called white privilege. In the 1980s, a white feminist,
Peggy McIntosh, came up with the metaphor of an
to analyze white privilege. It's unconscious, elusive,
pervasive, and white liberals have as much of it as white
conservatives do. McIntosh listed some ways she has white
privilege. Her list ranges from the broad: "I can, if I
wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most
of the time," to the supposedly trivial: "I can choose ...
bandages in 'flesh' color and have them more or less match
The full essay
Please send a note,
to be shared here!
Nooses – just pranks, or old-fashioned
white students at Jena High placed nooses in a tree last year to
show their hostility toward their African-American classmates,
the old symbol of racial hatred seems to be turning up all over.
Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami
Herald, wrote a week ago listing just a few of the recent
A noose is left for a black workman at a
construction site in the Chicago area. In Queens, a woman
brandishes a noose to threaten her black neighbors. A noose
is left on the door of a black professor at Columbia
University. And that's just last week. Go back a little
further and you have similar incidents at the University of
Maryland in College Park, at a police department on Long
Island, on a Coast Guard cutter, in a bus maintenance garage
Pitts tells "a history of rope," including the
story of Mary Turner, who in 1918 was burned alive in Valdosta,
Ga. A man slashed open her swollen stomach. "The baby she had
carried nearly to term tumbled out and managed two cries before
the man crushed its head beneath his heel. A rope was used to
tie Turner upside down in a tree."
Things may have changed, he says – but they
may be changing back again.
It feels as if in recent years we the
people have backward traveled from even the pretense of
believing our loftiest ideals. It has become fashionable to
decry excessive ''political correctness,'' deride
''diversity,'' sneer at the ''protected classes.'' ... Just
a prank, the man says.
Mary Turner would argue otherwise. I find
it useful to remember her, useful to be reminded of things
we would rather forget. To remember her is to understand
that there is no prank here.
Pitts' column >>
I was reminded of this by
a letter writer in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
who responded to Pitts’ column by saying that the two nooses
hanging in his front yard are just Halloween decorations, along
with the skeletons and ghosts and tombstones. What’s the big
deal, he says. After all, his stepdaughter is black, and "she
hasn't given any of this a second thought."
I’ll side with Pitts on this one.
Racial Ethnic Ministries Program Area seeks Young Adult
Intern for Racial Justice and Advocacy [4-27-07]
Announcement from Office of Racial Justice and Advocacy
The Office of Racial Justice and Advocacy is now recruiting for its next
intern. This program is offered through the National Volunteers Office of
the Presbyterian Church (USA).
detailed in a separate document, is open to persons between the ages of
20 and 35. The intern program is a one-year term, beginning mid-August or
September. A stipend is provided, but housing is the responsibility of the
intern. Please distribute this information to your networks.
This is an excellent opportunity for a young adult to spend a year
learning about the connectional nature of the Church, issues of racial
justice in the Church, and how to advocate for racial justice within and
outside the Church. The internship provides inspiring exposure to the
expression in and through the Church of God's justice and the power of the
Spirit to use human vessels to effect change.
We are particularly interested in recruiting someone to work on the
Facing Race in Theological Education project for the 2007-2008 internship
Please contact me if you have any questions about the position.
Information for this position could also be accessed through
1. Click the "Search" icon
2. Under "Location" select KY
3. Choose "Full Time" for type of position
4. Choose "Young Adult Opportunities" under Position Categories.
The results should provide you with all the Young Adult Internships that
may be of interest to your constituents.
Tiffany B. Gonzales
Young Adult Intern, Racial Justice & Advocacy
100 Witherspoon Street, Rm 3006A
Louisville, KY 40202-1396
1-888-728-7228, ext. 5014
Celebrating the life and witness of Dr. Martin Luther
King, Jr. [1-10-07]
It's Not the
Dream, It's the Vision in the Context of Reality
On January 15, 2007, America will celebrate the birth,
death, and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We will hear
those powerful words, 'I Have a Dream.' What many of us don't realize is
that Dr. King was no dreamer. He was a visionary, not some abstract
thinker or philosopher. He was a prophet and a true revolutionary.
Thus begins an essay by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III,
Producer/Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program "On
With Leon" on XM Satellite Radio Channel 169, Producer/Host of the
television program "Inside the Issues With Wilmer Leon" and a Teaching
Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in
The full essay >>
2 new Web sites offer splashes of diversity
Latest website offerings highlight multicultural and Asian-American
Two new Internet Web sites reflecting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s
commitment to racial-ethnic diversity are now up and running on the
denomination's Web site.
One of the sites,
www.pcusa.org/diversity, is dedicated to multicultural ministry; it was
launched by the PC(USA)'s Office of Evangelism and Racial and Cultural
www.pcusa.org/asianamerican, is dedicated to Asian-American ministry; it
is sponsored by the PC(USA)'s Office of Congregational Leadership
(Asian-American), part of the Theology and Worship program area of the
Congregational Ministries Division (CMD).
rest of the story >>
Passing of a Southern Civil Rights Pioneer-- Anne Braden
Revered white anti-racist southern activist
Anne Braden died at the age of 81 on Monday morning, March 6, at Jewish
Hospital in Louisville, ending nearly 60 years of unyielding action against
segregation, racism, and white supremacy. Braden catapulted into national
headlines in mid-1954 when she and her husband Carl Braden were indicted for
sedition for their leadership in desegregating a Louisville, Kentucky,
suburb. Read the story
Legacy of Her Own: Coretta Scott King
Message from The Fellowship of
Of the many tributes to Coretta Scott King,
who died on January 31, this message from the Fellowship of Reconciliation
seems to express much of what we, too, would like to express.
Read the full
Coretta Scott King, who died last night at the age of 78,
is best known as the driving force behind the memorialization of her late
husband, slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. She was the chief
architect of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and
was instrumental in getting a federal holiday to honor him.
But Mrs. King was not just the guardian of her husband's
legacy. She was a committed activist in her own right, a forceful,
courageous, and visionary woman who was determined not just that her
husband's achievements be remembered, but that his philosophy of nonviolence
continue to be taught.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, of which Mrs. King was a
member, honors the woman who always maintained, despite efforts to tone down
the radical implications of Dr. King's message, that the root cause of
misery in the world was the "triple evil" of racism, poverty, and violence.
She once said of the Fellowship that its "courageous dedication to the
liberation of humanity" from these three evils was what put FOR "in the
forefront of the nonviolent struggle for peace with justice."
Mrs. King's strength and resolve were apparent early in
her life. She was only the second black person in history to attend Antioch
College in Ohio - the first being her sister. "That took courage and
character," said Lili Baxter, who worked at the King Center and is a past
chair of FOR's National Council. "But it also took a vision that people of
different races could live and work together."
Her deep and steadfast commitment to nonviolence, in the
face of some efforts to downplay its importance, led her to resist the
original name proposed for the1968 center established in honor of Mrs.
King's husband: The King Center for Social Change. She insisted on the
insertion of the word "nonviolent" in the official title.
She spearheaded a national petition campaign for a federal
holiday to honor her late husband - achieved in 1983. Richard Deats, former
editor of Fellowship magazine and Martin Luther King biographer,
served with her on the commission that brought this about. "The hallmarks of
her leadership were unfailing grace, good humor, and a firm resolve," he
said. "She never wavered in her nonviolent vision."
Indeed, who will ever forget Mrs. King's consummate
dignity and graciousness, even in the midst of conflict or controversy? "She
was a composed, accomplished, and deliberative person," said Lili Baxter.
"But in private, she could also be funny, irreverent, and a shrewd mimic."
Like her husband, Coretta Scott King was a visionary. The
most fitting tribute we can make to her is to lift up that prophetic vision
of the Beloved Community - a vision for which her husband died, and which
she ensured would not be lost.
The graphic tribute above has been created by Witherspooner Derrick
Kikuchi, of Reach and Teach -
Social justice education products, in Daly City, CA.
Birmingham pastor urges us to sign Birmingham
Pledge to end racism [12-8-05]
As the 2006 General Assembly in Birmingham draws near, we are glad that
John Bush, interim minister of the First Presbyterian Church, has called our
attention to the Birmingham Pledge against racism.
Thank you for making a difference!
I've signed the Birmingham Pledge and I'm sending it to you so that you
can help end racism one person at a time too. The Birmingham Pledge is a
personal commitment to recognize the worth and dignity of every
individual. Tens of thousands of people from all over the United States
have signed the Birmingham Pledge and I hope you will join me. If you have
not already done so, you can sign the Pledge by clicking this link
ROSA PARKS: A Tribute
from the Director of the Presbyterian
Washington Office [10-28-05]
As we mourn her, she would probably be the
first to say that we still have more to do. Legal equality has not brought
about actual social equality -in education, health care, housing and
employment. We need only look around to see that inequality is still a fact
of life in the United States. Katrina washed away the coverings of systemic
poverty in one part of our nation, but it still exists in many places in the
US and around the world.
The full statement >>
From the Presbyterian
Was Bennett right?
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF), has shared the material below from the
Justice Policy Institute regarding comments from William Bennett. These
comments have received lots of attention because there are people who
believe them to be fact and give more credence to them because they come
from a former public official. Readers will have to judge for themselves or
wait for time to tell if Mr Bennett really believes these things himself or
whether he was simply giving voice to a misconception held by what many of
us think is a misinformed minority in society. The information below gives
statistics/information that you may use as you talk and think about this
"You could abort every black baby in this
country, and your crime rate would go down," former Education Secretary and
Drug Czar William Bennett
Comments agreeing with him:
• "What was false? Well, as a matter of fact, is it not a
fact that the per-capita crime rate among blacks is higher than whites? What
is false here?" – Brit Hume, reporter and commentator, Fox News Sunday,
October 02, 2005.
• "Statistics have long been kept on crime, breaking it
down in various ways, including by race and ethnicity. Some identifiable
groups, considered as a group, commit crime at a rate that is higher than
the national rate. Blacks are such a group. That is simply a fact." – Andrew
C. McCarthy, former federal prosecutor, a senior fellow at the Foundation
for the Defense of Democracies, National Review On-line, September
THE REALITY OF RACIALLY DISPARATE YOUTH CRIME?
While some have denounced the comments by former Education
Secretary and Drug Czar William Bennett, they unfortunately believe his
comments are based in fact. Those who believe that African American or
Latino youth are more "criminal" than any other ethnic groups are simply
wrong. The real facts tell us much more than stereotypes, or musings – both
of which obscure the well-documented disparate treatment accorded African
Americans compared to whites within the justice system. These comments on
racially disparate crime also overlook the area of "corporate crime."
For over a decade, the Justice Department has been working
to reduce the racial disparity seen in juvenile arrests and juvenile
imprisonment, a fact that underscores the existence of racially disparate
arrests and sentences. African American youth arrest rates for drug
violations, assaults and weapon offenses are higher than arrest rates for
white youth-even though both report similar rates of delinquency.
FEDERAL LAWMAKERS RECOGNIZE YOUTH OF COLOR ARE TREATED
DIFFERENTLY BY THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM.
Since 1992, when the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention Act (JJDPA) was amended, the federal government has acknowledged
that youth of different races and ethnicities are treated differently by the
justice system. As such the federal government has promoted policies to ease
those disparities. The Republican Congress reauthorized the JJDPA in 2003.
THE IMPACT OF THE "RACE EFFECT."
In a seminal meta-analysis conducted by researchers Carl
Pope and Richard Feyerherm for the Justice Department, two-thirds of the
studies of state and local juvenile justice systems they analyzed found that
there was a "race effect" at some stage of the juvenile justice process that
affected outcomes for minorities for the worse. Their research suggested
that "the effects of race may be felt at various decision points, they may
be direct or indirect, and they may accumulate as youth continue through the
LARGEST DISPARITIES FOUND IN DRUG ARRESTS, IMPRISONMENT.
Some of the greatest disparities in the juvenile justice
system's response to youth of color involve the number of youth arrested,
and prosecuted for drug offenses. While African American youth comprise 17%
of the youth population4, African American youth represent 27% of all drug
violation arrests, and comprise 48% of the youth detained for a drug
"Contrary to popular assumption, at all three grade levels
African American youth have substantially lower rates of use of most licit
and illicit drugs than do Whites." – Monitoring the Future Survey, 2004.
African Americans Make Up Nearly Half the Youth Detained for Drug Offenses,
But Use Drugs at the Same Rate as Whites
Source: Crime in the United States, 2001. (2002) Washington, DC: U.S.
Justice Department, Federal Bureau of Investigations. Puzzanchera, C.,
Finnegan, T. and Kang, W. (2005). "Easy Access to Juvenile Populations"
http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/ezapop/; Sickmund, Melissa, Sladky,
T.J., and Kang, Wei. (2004) "Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement
Databook." Online. Available:
African American Youth Are Treated Differently By
the Juvenile Justice System
Drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among
youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current illicit drug use was 11.1 % among
whites, and 9.3% among African Americans. In a previous year, the same
survey found that white youth aged 12 to17 are more than a third more likely
to have sold drugs than African American youth. The Monitoring the Future
Survey of high school seniors shows that white students annually use cocaine
at 4.6 times the rate of African Americans students, use crack cocaine at
1.5 times the rate of African Americans students, and use heroin at the same
rate of African Americans students, and that white youth report annual use
of marijuana at a rate 46% higher than African American youth. However
African American youth are arrested for drug offenses at about twice the
rate (African American 314 per 100,000, white 175 per 100,000) times that of
whites,8 and African American youth represent nearly half (48%) of all the
youth incarcerated for a drug offense in the juvenile justice system.
Weapons. According to the Center on Disease Control's annual Youth
Risk Behavior Survey, in 2001 whites and African Americans reported similar
rates of carrying a weapon (whites 17.9%, African Americans 15.2%), and
similar rates of carrying a gun (whites 5.5%, and African Americans, 6.5%).
African American youth represent 32% of all weapons arrests, and were
arrested for weapons offenses at a rate twice that of whites (69 per
100,000, versus 30 per 100,000).
Assault. According to the Center on Disease Control's annual Youth
Risk Behavior Survey, African Americans report being in a physical fight at
a similar rate (36.5%, versus 32.5% for whites), but were arrested for
aggravated assault at a rate nearly three times that of whites (137 per
100,000, versus 48 per 100,000).
"The existence of much larger racial and ethnic differences in arrest rates
than in self-reported violence is a matter of great concern. On the one
hand, there is no reason to expect similar distributions, because these
measures were designed to assess different aspects of violence. But if both
measures are valid and reliable, the discrepancy suggests that the
probability of being arrested for a violent offense varies with
race/ethnicity."-Youth Violent: A Report of the Surgeon General, January,
For More Information, contact the Justice Policy
For the Institute’s posting of this paper, complete with
For more information, contact:
Elenora Giddings Ivory,
PC(U.S.A) Washington Office
110 Maryland Avenue, NE #104,
Washington, DC 20002.
202-543-1126, fax 202-543-7755
Some resources for Black
History Month [2-8-05]
Negro History Week was established in the
1920s by Carter G. Woodson. February was chosen as the month in which both
Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born. Extended to a month-long
celebration in 1976, Black History Month is an opportunity to emphasize the
history and achievements of African Americans.
Web sites you may want to visit:
Thanks to Edgehill United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN
From Gene TeSelle, February 6, 2005
Do you have other resources (on-line or
otherwise) to suggest?
Please send a note
and we'll share it here.
An Open Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In an "open letter" to Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr., nearly 40 years after his death, a large number of progressive
clergy recall his vision and his challenge to patterns of racism and
injustice. Yet today they are compelled to point to the continuation of
white racism, and the sad fact that "many black people now have difficulty
seeing their connections to other black people. We have embraced societal
distinctions that separate us by age, education, gender, sexuality and
FREEDOM RIDES 2004 - JUNE 9th thru JUNE 25th 2004!
[This information was sent by the
National Council of Churches, Washington Office, and forwarded by the
Presbyterian Washington Office. [Posted here 5-19-04]]
The Chaney Goodman
Schwerner Justice Coalition
1964 - 2004
40th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The Chaney Goodman Schwerner Justice
Coalition, a project of the James Early Chaney Foundation, is currently
accepting registration for Freedom Summer 2004 Ride for Justice. This
historic North-South caravan will journey from New York City throughout
the South, stopping along the way at cities of special significance to the
Civil Rights movement, including:
a.. Philadelphia, PA. - Cheyney
University - Last Stop of the Underground Railroad
b.. Washington, DC - Howard University and the Holocaust Museum
c.. Hampton, Va, and Raleigh NC
d.. Atlanta, GA - Spellman & Morehouse Colleges, and the Martin Luther
e.. Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma AL
f.. Meridian, Philadelphia, Jackson, and Money, MS
g.. Baton Rouge, LA, and
h.. Memphis TN - The site where Dr. M.L. King was murdered.
i.. And other points of importance.
We have a limited number of seats, so
please register today! The registration fee of $1,500 includes
transportation from New York City, room, and board.
If you are not able to make the ride,
perhaps you can help sponsor a Freedom Rider!
FREEDOM SUMMER 2004 website for details and to register.
For additional information visit the
James Earl Chaney Foundation website at
www.jecf.org or call 212-475-3232.
Thanks for your support! PLEASE SHARE
THIS WITH OTHER FRIENDS you feel may be interested!
- Ben Chaney
For earlier items on working for racial justice -- from
2001 and 2002 -- please go to the
Racial Concerns archive page.
50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education:
a reminder for action,
provided by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Here's a helpful list of items that define the problems
providing equal educational opportunity for every child in America --
along with steps toward solutions. [5-14-04]
Ring bells to commemorate 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board
of Education [5-11-04]
Presbyterian Washington Office:
The following message is being passed
through the civil rights and African American community. This may be
something you would like to consider for your church and community, if
you have a bell.
Please join with me and with churches and
institutions throughout the United States who will be commemorating the
50th anniversary of Brown versus the Board of Education on May 17, 2004.
Churches, educational institutions, and other facilities with bells are
being asked to ring their bells on May 17, 2004, at exactly 12:52 p.m.,
the date and time that the Brown v. Board of Education decision was
rendered. On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that
segregation in public schools solely on the basis of race denies children
of color the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth
This historic decision has changed our
society and has had lasting impact. We invite you to ring your bells at
12:52 p.m. on May 17th to join in this public observance of the 50th
Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
The bell ringing commemoration is being
coordinated by the Dallas Bar Association, and the request for our
participation was made at the Presbyterian Church Multicultural Conference
held in Irving, Texas, April 22-25. For more information, please see
Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church (USA)
110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 104
Washington, DC 20002
PBS looks at Reconstruction as
"the second Civil War"
A PBS documentary
begins tonight, Monday, Jan. 12,
Bruce Gillette has provided helpful
background information from the PBS website, along with numerous links to
PC(USA) resources. You're encouraged to view this, and to encourage others
as well. [1-12-04]
A call to
the March on Washington
40th Anniversary -- August 21-24, 2003
This week the SCLC, the NAACP, the Urban
League and many of faith groups including the National Council of Churches
will convene a march to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the historic
March on Washington.
The National Council of Churches has sent out
a message from Martin Luther King, III
president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a detailed
list of events.
Black caucus convention examines justice, spirituality and African
Presbyterian News Service reports that the National Black Presbyterian
Caucus drew some 700 participants to its 36th annual convention in
Baltimore, from June 25 - 29.
Caucus president the Rev. Curtis Jones was praised for
his leadership in "transforming the convention from a gathering in search
of meaning into a driving and visionary force for the ministry of
African-Americans." He has recently been named as the first full-time,
paid executive director of the NBPC.
The convention focused on African-American church
growth, the NBPC's historic traditions of devotion to racial and social
justice, and re-affirming the group's mission connection to Africa and its
commitment to helping ease the spread of AIDS there.
will participate in affirmative action rally on April 1 in front of
nation's largest civil rights group will join students and community
leaders in support of University Of Michigan's admissions plan
Administration policies still reflect racism
of Michigan points to continuing problems of racism (and more) in our
society, reflected in recent actions by the President of the United
Equal Partners in
Faith has sent us this letter from the Triangle Foundation in
Michigan to media sources in that state. On this day of remembering the
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., it seems to shine a little light on some
of the problems our nation faces (or is choosing not to face) today.
Bush Bigotry: The Last Straw
George W. Bush has decided to oppose the University of
Michigan affirmative action policy. He intends to influence the case
before the U.S. Supreme Court. Should we be surprised?
Bush claimed racism was bad for America, when Trent Lott
cheered on segregation. Then he re-nominated Charles Pickering to a
lifetime federal court. Pickering has a racist record. Nearly all the
recent Bush nominations, which have already once been rejected by the
Senate, have racist, sexist, and/or homophobic records. Not to mention
racial profiling against immigrants, supporting public funding of
charities that discriminate, dismantling free public education, opposing a
woman's right to choose, and the insanely dangerous "abstinence only"
education. The list goes on.
Now Bush has decided to oppose affirmative action
calling it "divisive." What transparent spin. It is racism that is
divisive, not affirmative action, which works to remedy hundreds of years
Triangle Foundation stands in solidarity with those in
support of the University of Michigan affirmative action policy. Bush has
waged a war on minorities, fairness and the environment, even before he
entered the White House.
What are we as Americans supposed to do with a President
working to dismantle our constitutional protections and destroy the very
natural resources we rely on for health and sustenance.
We must stand up as an anti-racist movement to support
minority access to an excellent education. The only way to eradicate
poverty and racism is to provide people with the tools to advance in our
Director of Policy
EQUAL PARTNERS in FAITH
is a multi-racial national network of religious leaders and people of
faith committed to equality and diversity. Our diverse faith traditions
and shared religious values lead us to affirm and defend the equality of
all people, regardless of religion, race, ability, gender, sexual
orientation or gender identity. As people of faith, we actively oppose the
manipulation of religion to promote inequality and exclusion.
a live town meeting on TV this Thursday
from the Presbyterian Washington Office [1-7-03]
Thursday on PBS (9 pm. ET), Ted Koppel will anchor
AMERICA IN BLACK AND WHITE: JASPER, TEXAS, a live town meeting on race
in America from Jasper, Texas. The 90-minute town meeting will be
broadcast live and in its entirety on PBS at 9:00 p.m. ET (check local
listings). ABC News "Nightline" will broadcast one hour of the
town meeting beginning at 11:35 p.m. ET on the ABC Television Network.
The town hall meeting will be held with the citizens
of Jasper, many of whom were interviewed for the documentary.
For earlier items on working for racial justice -- from
2001 and 2002 -- please go to the
Racial Concerns archive page.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!