Recently my son and I went on a 3-day pilgrimage to Selma and Montgomery. We were part of a small, diverse group of clergy leaders from Jacksonville. This gracious group welcomed my son, who joined us everywhere, including in the sacred circle of listening and sharing we formed upon arrival and which we returned to throughout our journey.
This was a time of challenge, discomfort, grief, and angst. It was also a time of great hope as we committed to one another to continue meeting, sharing, and growing. As one participant stated: “For me this is not a ‘one and done’.”
Pictured here is my son in a park at the edge of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which memorializes victims of lynching. Ida B. Wells has described lynching as our national crime. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she reported courageously on crimes of lynching, providing essential documentation for executions that might not otherwise be traceable.
My hometown of Jacksonville, FL continues to do the work of identifying, researching and memorializing victims locally that also are remembered at this site in Montgomery. I will continue processing and leaning into this work. I know in many ways I am just at the beginning. Discomfort is a given. Discomfort is a small price to pay as we acknowledge and begin healing from these collective crimes and the residual continuing impact of racism on all of us regardless of the color of our skin or our “social location.”
Imagine the discomfort of one who was lynched for the supposed crime of vagrancy. Or of those pursued by angry mobs who participated in — and witnessed by the thousands — their vicious torture and executions.
If this topic makes you uncomfortable, I say Hallelujah! Join us in this messy, awkward journey of collective healing. Join us as we uncover and discover the deep roots and legacy of racism and oppression in our midst. We must persist.