A Message from the Executive Director
Let Us Not Forget!
To say that I am not angry about the recent and ongoing events in this country would not be truthful. I am no different from most people I know and thousands across the country and around the world who witnessed the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of four men whose job is to serve and protect. I sat with my 99-year old mother, who Lord knows has seen more than her share of crimes against humanity. Together, we helplessly watched the cell phone video as George’s life was squeezed from him in the same way that black people were hung by their necks for hundreds of years. My mother said God only knows how many have suffered and died and not gone on record because we did not have the ability of the 17-year old who bravely pointed her cell phone while all this was happening. No doubt there have been hundreds of similar murders that did not get recorded.
What is the difference today? We have listened and watched as those of the people, by the people, for the people have spewed meaningless words against the people. Hate speech is alive and well, veiled in prose, subtle innuendo, threats, and dog whistles. They are the incendiary devices that ignite the flames of discord and they are condoned and encouraged by a twisted mindset that believes those who do not look, act, or think like them are irrelevant—mere casualties of war. It is not only inhumane, but also insane.
We have watched a public lynching, only this time the people standing around screaming for it to stop were armed with truth, principles, integrity, and righteous indignation. They wisely used their First Amendment rights to capture it all in real time. Then they used the power of social media to show the world before blind justice had a chance to manufacture a different story. Yet, these citizens were helpless to do anything to prevent the long arm of the law from choking the life out of George Floyd. At least not this time.
The ensuing protests are clearly demonstrating that black and brown people, joined by others who are woke, recognize that every one of us is created in the image and likeness of God. That gives all of us the right to breathe freely the same air. This senseless killing reminds all of us that when that air is being choked out of one of us, we should all be gasping for breath and crying out for help. I felt it and I am still choking. I also felt it when stories have finally come to light about others whose lives were snuffed out by the long arm of the law. Whose law? Ours and those sworn to protect and to serve us all.
We cannot sit idly by until the next cell phone recording makes its way to social media or our television news as if the deaths we witness were simply a cliffhanger TV episode before the next season. We cannot just sit on the edges of our seats wondering what is going to happen next or how we can pick up from where we left off with the last killing.
In the eloquent lyrics of the hymn penned by James and Rosemond Johnson, “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears; Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; God who has by Thy might led us into the light; keep us forever on the path we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places our God where we met thee; lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world we forget thee.”
Let us not forget the road we have traveled that brought us to where we are. Let us not be so fooled by all the great things we enjoy since slavery was abolished and some laws enacted that were intended to guarantee equal rights for all. We must remember that someone paid a price for us to have certain rights and privileges. And lives were lost.
Let us put feet to our prayers and do whatever Spirit anoints us to do to be the change, the peace, the love, the joy, the justice, the equality, the understanding, the compassion…we want to see in the world.
Let us not back down. Let us not give in. Let us not give up. We are not helpless. We are not hopeless. We are the people in whose interests the U.S. Constitution was written. This is not a Black problem for a Black agenda waiting for some act to be passed that will end all the pain and suffering and right past wrongs. This is America’s problem.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. strongly opposed violence; however, he recognized that nothing of significance can be gained without public outcry. In a 1967 speech to an audience at Stanford University, he said, “In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.” In another well-known speech, Dr. King also reminded us that, “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
These demonstrations from one end of this nation to another, and around the globe, are a wake-up call that we-the-people will no longer allow a small group to rule over those who gave them the power to govern. That means all of us.
We have the power of our conscience. We have the power of our voice. We have the power of the ballot. We can speak truth to power.
We will not stand by and watch as the breath is choked out of any one of us without a protest. We will not be complicit by keeping silent.
There is a pandemic of hate that is crying out for a vaccine of truth, justice, freedom, and equality. We have the cure. Let us not allow ourselves to be lulled back to sleep after the protests end, a few people are brought to justice, and a few gestures of restoration and reconciliation are made in the name of law and order. Let us not forget the names of those whose lives were sacrificed. Let history record this and let us tell our children so that they are not blindsided when our voices can no longer be heard.
Let us not forget that we were all born for such a time as this. This could not have happened at a better time. We are woke. The world is woke. We are the cure. Let us share it in large doses.
Lest we forget, we must continue to raise our voices and speak the names of those whose lives were taken in this struggle. We speak their names. And they speak back with our ancestors from the grave where this story had its beginning 400 years ago.
Some say the pen is mightier than the sword. But, today, we have an even stronger, more immediate way of lifting our voices. Technology is mightier than the sword. So get out there and fight with your fingers and thumbs.
There is an old saying in my culture, “Every shut eye ain’t sleep and every goodbye ain’t gone.” Let us not close our eyes and forget about these injustices.
The best way to honor those whose lives led us to where we are is to speak their names and make your voice be heard through tweets, snap chat, shares, comments, the ballot, and every means at your disposal. Call, write, text, tweet, chat, share…your local, state, and federal officials. Tell them what you think and how you wish to be represented. Do not forget this is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Those who serve, serve at the consent of the governed. The United States means US!
Rev. Ruth Mosley built Unity Urban Ministerial School on the foundation laid by Jesus Christ, the original Urban minister. We continue to uphold the mission and purpose of this School as stated in Isaiah 61:1—The Spirit of God is upon me, for God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to comfort the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the doors to those who are in prison.
Unity Urban Ministerial School stands with the families of those whose lives were taken. We are not just speaking of those who were killed at the hands of law enforcement officers. We also include those who were killed by non-law enforcement. My father, Grady Wayne, Sr., a veteran of WW II, was stabbed to death in 1976 by a knife-wielding maniac who was convicted on a plea of insanity and served three years in prison. The murderer was a black man. I do not like the reference “black-on-black” crime, because crime is crime—it has no color. I also have several close family members in law enforcement. I do not speak for them. In my point of view, the difference is that those in law enforcement are charged to serve and protect all citizens.
I do not speak for everyone in the Urban School; however, I do speak in the words of our Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, who said, “What you did for the least of my brothers and sisters you did for me (Matthew 25:40).
We join our brothers and sisters throughout our nation and our world in putting feet to our prayers. It is up to all of us to come together as one people, one nation, under God, indivisible, to turn things around.
In the words of an African proverb, “A single bracelet does not jingle.” So let us make some noise together.
In the first lines of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift every voice and sing, til earth and heaven ring; ring with the harmony of liberty. Let our rejoicing rise high as the listening skies; let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us. Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. Facing the rising sun of a new day begun. Let us march on ‘til victory is won.”
Make your voices be heard at the polls–at the local and state elections, and especially this coming November. And, when you get there, speak the names in whose memory you are lifting your voice.
Let us not forget!
Rev. Sandra Wayne Campbell