Racial Justice

The Wisconsin Council of Churches took 130 people on a cross-country road trip to the ACT Now: Unite to End Racism Rally and Day of Action in Washington DC sponsored by the National Council of Churches, its ecumenical and interfaith partners, April 4-5, 2018.

We offer you this album of photos and reflections from trip participants. Along the way we posed questions to those who joined us; responses have been edited slightly to allow for anonymity.

"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical..." - image of quote from MLK memorial with cherry trees in blossom.

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional…” Words from Dr. King provided food for reflection as participants in the silent prayer walk entered the Memorial in the early morning hours.

 

On the Road

The name of this event is ACT Now: Unite to End Racism.
Why have you chosen to act now? Why did you choose to come on this journey?

  • Act justly love mercy and walk humbly with your God.
  • If we don’t act now, then when? I believe it’s all of our responsibility to make this stand and demand action from the governments and everyone. Racism in any form is unacceptable.
  • The 2016 election woke me up to my privilege and complacency. I am compelled to action now in ways I never have been before.
  • Trained as a racial justice advocate. This is my thing justice for ALL!

If the Christian task is “to see what God is doing and join in” (Rowan Williams) – what do you suppose God might be doing about racial justice in these days? And what does that mean for us?

  • Probably same old things God has always done, but in new and creative ways and in new places: liberating, delivering, breaking down walls of injustice, caring for the poor, the sick, those in prison, the stranger among us, and the least of these who are also members of God’s family. Which means God is calling us to get on board and be God’s hands and feet in the world.
  • Great question, not sure but maybe crying.
  • God is calling up many diverse folks with prophetic voices. Many may not be Christians. As a community organizer I see many are “spiritual not religious” or atheist. It’s about the call and work not the title or position you hold. Those called are meant to be disrupters to effect change. It means we have to be flexible… [if our] systems and traditions become blocked to the spirit we die spiritually.
  • I believe God is wondering when we will join in. Do we speak truth? Are we outraged or resting in our privilege?
  • For me racial justice means or begins with celebrating (a) who we are as God’s people; (b) gift of diversity among and with us; (c) giftedness of ALL people.

 


 

Silent Prayer Walk from Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Memorial to the National Mall

The silent prayer walk enters the MLK Memorial Grounds

What did you see on your prayer walk?

  • Nonviolent protest
  • Looking at the cherry blossoms the thought came that this action needs to be more lasting than the blossoms.
  • I saw a man holding a sign remembering Dr. King’s fight against nuclear weapons and militarization. When he passed by me, I saw that his sign was made on the back of a child’s lemonade stand sign.

People from around the country gather for the silent prayer walk at dawn on April 4th, 2018 before the ACT Now: Unite to End Racism rally begins. Hundreds of people began their day at the MLK Memorial and journeyed silently to the National Mall led by the beat of a single drummer: a drumbeat for justice.

 

Walter Wink says,

“Every outer evil inevitably attracts from our own depths parts of ourselves that resemble it. To engage evil is therefore a spiritual act, because it will requires of us the rare courage to face our own most ancient and intractable evils within.”

What about this work requires your courage?
What in it frightens or challenges you most deeply?

  • This evil overwhelms me but it is my faith and hope I struggle with to give me courage.
  • This work requires deep self-examination of those blind spots I have within my privilege. To recognize and take responsibility for the racism complicit within all the systems and institutions that make my life what it is today.

 

 


Rally on the Mall

The silent prayer walk led participants to an Interfaith Prayer Service followed by a rally on the National Mall with inspirational speakers, music, dance, call and response. Search social media for the hashtag #ACT2EndRacism and view video at the ACT2EndRacism Facebook page.

After this journey, what do you know? What did you learn?
What do you wonder? What is our call?

  • To answer this well would take discernment, and maybe alertness, but I’m so grateful to you for having organized our participation. Thank you! Definitely called to deepen the resistance to racism, both overt and as it emerges in policies.
  • Two key take-aways for me were “see something, say something.” I’m revising it a little to say see/hear. It sounds simple but yet so challenging. If I hear or see someone saying or doing something that is not out of love, I’m going to TAKE A STAND! Also, the “loving mercy vs. doing justice”, I am going to bring this back to my congregation and ask what are some things we can be doing to TAKE A STAND for justice, not just mercy? Thank you for this opportunity! <3
  • Commit to one thing and do it, like call legislators about guns. Another man killed today. Or investigate the legal system. If they know people are watching. People including judges reflect on their own decisions differently. Do something!
  • I am looking into what the Poor Peoples Campaign will be doing in Wisconsin in May and June.
  • Action, change even if it happens in small steps matters. I gained much insight from this march and will need time to process it all. My first small step will be including racial inequality statistics in a presentation I am giving Sunday. Before the march I wanted to keep the presentation “non-political” and non-offensive but I no longer want to be complicit. Thanks for hosting, I am glad I went.
  • Activism needs to lead to action. We have work to do to mobilize our passion.

 


 

Day of Action and Advocacy

Two buses of participants headed back to Wisconsin the same night.  One bus stayed in DC with participants for the Day of Action.  Here’s what they were up to on Wednesday evening after the rally and on Thursday:

 

What would you want people to know about your experience? The journey? The people you met? The importance or urgency of this work? What do you intend to do next?

  • If I were to write, I would focus on what I have done for Christ and the Kingdom of God. The issues that are before us and that we lifted up are all about common people of all ages, nations and races who were the sole audience of Jesus then and now. Churches’ people matter; love matters; united voices matter; witnessing matters.
  • Gather information specific to the Pine Ridge and the challenges that American Indians face, and begin planning how to get more people of faith to raise their voices in solidarity.
  • It was a good experience. So glad I went. Thank you!
  • Thank you!! It feels good to have so many more beautiful people in my life of all colors.
  • I will continue to work with and strengthen the work of our conference boards on these issues and concerns. At our Annual Conference, we are bringing two resolutions, they are: Gun Violence and Immigration.
  • If we don’t understand how institutional racism was constructed we will unknowingly perpetuate it rather than dismantle it. My next step is to learn more about that and how to integrate it into advocacy.
  • One of the attendees on a bus with me said that the day reignited her hope in change.
  • I am thankful for bus conversation which gave me much to think about and inspiration…may God bless you all with courage and endurance, hope and joy…you will remain my traveling partners on the journey to confront racism.

 


In Gratitude

Thank you to the following sponsors who made this journey possible: The United Methodist Church Wisconsin Conference, John Knox PresbyteryWisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ, East Central Synod ELCA, Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, Northwest Synod ELCA, South Central Synod ELCA, Forward Community Investments, and several private individuals who scholarshipped seats.



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