National Geographic provides an excellent review of what happened in Virginia 400 years ago. “Stolen by Portuguese slave traders, kidnapped by English pirates, and taken far from home, African arrivals to colonial Virginia in 1619 marked the origins of U.S. slavery.” Read more about our infamous past.
Associate Rev. Dr. Tim Ahrens shares his litany for 400 years of Africans in American.
L: God has created all people. Let us give God the glory for creating us all!
C: God be praised for the gift of one human race, it all its complexions, customs, and cultures!
L: From the beginning, the Church of Jesus Christ has been a blessed mixture of peoples—women men, children, Jews and Gentiles, slave and free;
C: We celebrate the cradle of Christianity in Africa – in Egypt and Ethiopia. Before American Christians were a twinkle in the Eye of God, African Christians were rising and spreading the love of Jesus Christ.
L: In shame, Christians and others were shackled and brought to America as slaves. They came as believers in Christ.
C: Not all “found Jesus” in America. And those who were baptized into Christ here rose to shine His light to generations of believers! The faith of millions transformed the Church and our nation. Thanks be to God!
L: On this 400th Anniversary of Africans arriving in America as slaves, we celebrate all people of African Descent across the globe and in our land.
C: We celebrate the beautiful and powerful presence of all people of African Descent in our congregation, in Columbus, in Ohio and in our nation.
L: We confess, lament, and grieve the pervasive injustice and harm done to people of African Descent in our nation. We weep for the centuries of the Atlantic slave trade which resulted in millions of victims in our nation alone.
C: We remember the words of our third President and slave-owner, Thomas Jefferson who wrote of the sin of slavery: “The Almighty has no attribute which can take sides with us in this practice of slavery.” 1
L: We lament the tragic legacy of slavery continued in segregated communities, schools, churches, South and North – a legacy which leaves a tear in the fabric of every community and a terrible scar on the body of Christ and our nation.
C: We remember the words of African American poet, Langston Hughes, “I am the American heartbreak; the Rock on which Freedom Stumps its toe; the great mistake that Jamestown made long ago.”2
L: Out of the American heartbreak, God is still speaking and God keeps a people vital, with resistance leaders, significant local and national cultural influences, beautiful music that changes our essence, spirituality that touches our souls, art beyond imagination, commitment to education, prophetic and social conscience, transformative writing and leadership in law, government, science and industry.
C: Thanks be to God, as we “lift every voice and sing.”
L: The history of people of African Descent is rich, complex, varied and close to home.
C: Thanks be to God for the rich, complex and varied blessings which have touched each of us.
L: Out of history’s shame and deep-rooted pain
C: Still We Rise!
L: Out of slavery’s whip; and tears dreadful stain,
C: Still We Rise!
L: Out of the ashes of the past, out of memories that last,
C: Still We Rise!
L: With God before us, behind us, within us, beside us,
C: We Will Rise! We Will Rise! We Will Rise! Amen. 3
* Inspired by the work of CeCee Mills and Tim Waltonen, of the Virginia Synod African American Outreach Team for the “Sankofa Dialogue/Litany,” 2019.
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785; 2. Langston Hughes, “American Heartbreak,” 1951; 3. Inspired by Maya Angelou, “And Still We Rise,” 1978
Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law, a founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color), and currently a fellow in the “Engaging Tradition” project at Columbia Law School. He explains “Winning legal equality—getting the law to cast us as victims of discrimination who the state will protect—will not support our survival. Instead of focusing on what the law says about trans people, which is really what the law is saying about itself as a protector of trans people, we should be focused on what systems of law and administration do to trans people and our interventions should aim to dismantle harmful, violent systems such as criminal punishment and immigration enforcement. Critical Race Theory offers a critique of how law and certain law reform strategies misunderstand the actual operation of life-shortening state violence, and how that has produced a set of reforms that fail to actually transform material conditions of white supremacy. These critiques redirect our attention to the conditions we aim to transform.” This might also explain why other persecuted people are not moving forward. He explains more in this interview in the Daily Good.
The American Friends Service Committee has developed a self-study e- course on Changing Systems Change Ourselves: Anti-racist Practice for Sanctuary, Accompaniment, and Resistance. It’s a four session course you can use at your own pace.
Fr. Brendan Curran, a Dominican Friar of the Central Province, and the North American Dominican Justice Promoter Co Coordinator, took a delegation to Mississippi to help the community after the raid and arrest of 700 adults. He writes that the communities in the four affected areas are very rural – about 20 miles between towns. Resources for immigrants’ rights are sparse. There are four immediate needs at this time. His report is here.
- Need for lawyers: The families need immediate help with immigration lawyers we need to help pressure the Guatemalan government to visit and represent Guatemalans in the affected zone. Nearly all of the 300 detainees are Guatemalan. Some attention is also needed to work with the Vietnamese Consulate for similar support and access to the detained.
- Need for international outcry: we believe that there is evidence of abuse and violation of laws in the apprehension of these immigrant workers. I am interested in assisting the local networks with support of the United Nations and/or other observers to ensure that a procedure for fighting these abuses proceeds.
- Need to support Vietnamese family victims: There were a number of victims of the raid who are from Vietnam and have very little support in the area – pastoral ministers who speak Vietnamese, immigrant rights lawyers and volunteers who speak Vietnamese.
- Need for a climate-controlled space in a warehouse near Jackson, MS: Donations are coming in for baby diapers, formula, wet-wipes, paper towels, napkins, kleenex and other needs and more is needed. There is NO warehouse space in the area at the moment.
If you can help or want more information, please contact Fr. Brendan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is planting trees enough to save the environment? Maybe not but we should probably follow the actions of Sr. Redemptor Iconga in Kenya and plant a few more ourselves.
On average, twenty active duty and veterans commit suicide each day primarily by guns. There are many for whom guns are necessary for their livelihood who still recognize the need for common sense gun safety legislation. Please see this letter sent by the Giffords Law Center Veterans Coalition. (https://lawcenter.giffords.org)
Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:
We write to you today from an America we no longer recognize.
As veterans, we have been willing to put our lives on the line for our country. Yet we can’t protect Americans from the gun violence epidemic here at home. This month’s shootings served as a stark reminder of how this crisis is ravaging the country. A killer fueled by hate and racism took the lives of 22 people and injured dozens in El Paso, Texas, while just 13 hours later, another senselessly murdered nine more and injured 26 in Dayton, Ohio.
Every day, 100 Americans die from gun violence. And yet for far too long, calls from a majority of Americans to pass commonsense gun laws have been met with indifference from our leaders. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Since September 11th, the United States has spent trillions of dollars combating terrorist threats abroad. But the unfortunate reality is that Americans motivated by homegrown hate and extremism are responsible for more American deaths over the past decade than sympathizers of al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorist groups. Now is the time to confront domestic terrorism and gun violence with the same focus and national consensus we’ve applied to combatting international terrorism.
While hate can fester in any corner of the world, our country’s weak gun laws represent a glaring vulnerability to American security. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a record-high number of active hate groups in the United States. When we allow these hate-filled individuals to purchase and possess firearms, the consequences can be deadly. Every year, there are more than 10,000 violent hate crime attacks involving firearms in our country. Passing stronger gun laws is not only the right thing to do—it’s critical to our national security.
It is painful and tragic to fight for our security abroad only to return home and confront a country torn by hate and awash in unregulated guns. The power of this country has always come from embracing our diversity. Together, we stand; divided, we fall.
We write to you today to ask that you take these security threats to our nation seriously, and advance commonsense gun safety legislation, like H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. You have the power to condemn the violent, hateful rhetoric taking root in communities across the country, and to take action to address it.
Our time in service was dedicated to leaving our country a safer place. We ask you to use your time in service to do the same.
General Peter W. Chiarelli, USA (Ret.)
General Michael Hayden, USAF (Ret.)
General James T. Hill, USA (Ret.)
Admiral James Loy, USCG (Ret.)
General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Norman R. Seip, USAF (Ret.)
Commander Carlos Del Toro, USN (Ret.)
Captain Terron Sims, II, USA (Ret.)
Shawn VanDiver, USN (Ret.)