Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech on August 23, 1963 just down the road from where I now sit. I was born a year later in August of 1964, a month after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, but into a country where Jim Crow laws, school segregation, and the concept of “separate but equal” lingered for many more years. Some would say vestiges of those immoral practices are with us still.
In my lifetime, we have seen undeniable forward progress. I stood with thousands of my fellow Americans on the mall in Washington, D.C. on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated as our 44th president. I had tears streaming down my face as I watched the faces of the older African Americans surrounding me and talked to them about what this day meant to them. In spite of this progress, this past year we have had far too many reminders the work is far from over.
In response to these ongoing issues, our church is in the middle of a sermon series called “Race Matters” this month. It has been a powerful experience to hear our pastor recount the history of race relations in our country and remind us we are still far from where we need to be on these issues. This past Sunday, he talked about how we are living in the tension between the “already and the not yet.”
Our pastor challenged us to begin this journey towards reconciliation and owning our part in the solution by pausing. He said “we have a propensity to shut down the conversation by not being willing to live in the discomfort.” As part of my process of pausing, I decided to look back on some of the experiences I have had with issues of race which have formed me and informed me. Continue reading