On July 30, 2020, we laid to rest another giant of the Civil Rights Movement, Congressman John L. Lewis. Speaker after speaker revealed a life lived from an early age with a mission “to do something” about the injustice of racism. He made this choice at age 15 because as he wrote in his final letter to the country, 14 year old “Emmitt Till was his George Floyd, his Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor.” He knew with great clarity “the potential brutality” that could be inflicted upon him and others who look like him for “no understandable reason.” For six decades, John Lewis took his own advice “to do something” in the struggle for peace and justice through his leadership in the Civil Rights movement. Even now in his death, he inspires a new generation, the Black Lives Matter movement, in its 21st century struggle against injustice.
As a 68-year-old Black woman raised in Virginia, I am very much aware of the struggle for racial equality and the civil rights movement. However, I must admit that the murder of George Floyd affected me more deeply than I am able to express in knowing that only the color of his skin gave “unspoken” permission for such brutality. How do you even process that kind of trauma? I found that as much as I wanted to write to about what I was feeling—I could not. The inspiration of hearing and reading about John Lewis’ life in recent days has contributed to helping me move further along in my own journey of “doing something” in the struggle to proclaim that Black lives matter!
Proclaiming that Black Lives Matter and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, in some ways, has become divisive. Some want to express their support of the statement that Black lives matter, but not the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) —associating it with violence, Marxist ideology or that it denigrates the traditional idea of family. Beyond the statement “Black Lives Matter,” I understand the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement, in essence as “promoting a world where every Black person has the social, economic and political power to thrive. They promote freedom for all people regardless of race, gender identity, economic status, religion beliefs or not, and immigration status.” What I have seen of legitimate leaders and followers of the BLM movement has been peaceful protests and the inclusion of all races and sexual orientations. Such inclusiveness might disturb some, but is that not part of what the Gospel is about—meeting people where they are without judgement of who they are.
I believe the Black Lives Matter movement has often been a target for disinformation. Promoting disinformation has always been a strategy for discrediting anything or anyone that threatens the status quo and power structure. Openness to learning truth is the only way to combat disinformation.
Like Congressman John Lewis and leaders of the Civil Rights movement, I am inspired by this new, young, and diverse generation who continue “the good fight” proclaiming in the 21st century that Black lives do, indeed, matter!
I pray this time we are heard.
Pat Dual, OP