Post-Civil War until 1950, there were over 4,000 men, women, and children who were lynched in America. 4,000 fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters who were hung, burned, shot, beaten or drowned all because of the color of their of their skin. Yet the church stood silent. In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till, was brutally murdered, mutilated, then thrown into a river because he was accused of offending a white woman. The church stood silent still. In 1963, Addie Mae Collins (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Carol Denise McNair (11), were murdered when a bomb blew up their little bodies beyond recognition in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and still the church stood silent.
We’ve learned in these past few months that the church is more than a building but the people who gather to live by God’s word and for God’s mission. Brothers and sisters, we can no longer remain silent as men and women of color are being lynched before our very eyes. We must weep, we must cry out, and we must stand. When we stand up, we are not against law enforcement, we are not against freedom, we are not against responsibility. We are for justice, equity and peace.
Church, what can we do?
First, we must pray.
Pray for God to bring comfort and peace to victims and their families. Pray for God’s justice to bring reconciliation and restoration. Pray for hope to arise in communities over the sound of division and violence.
Second, we must confess.
Confess the sin of prejudice in our own hearts that lay in the deepest parts of ourselves. Confess the systemic structures that allow for exploitation and subjugation of people of color. For what we see in ourselves, we confess. For what is unseen, we commit to learn and listen and confess.
Third, we must be a voice.
A voice for the voiceless and the powerless. A voice crying for justice for those who were ripped from their families and sold like cattle. A voice for those who never received justice, like Emmet Till and the thousands of others like him. A voice that drowns out the silence of history so that the church can stand up and declare, “no more, not now, not another soul.”
I will no longer be silent.
Words from our Pastor of Discipleship, Rev. Soon Pak.