A Faithful Presence

This Sunday in my city of Winston Salem, Confederate supporters planned a rally around the Confederate monument downtown. The sons of confederacy and the heirs of the confederacy have a rally planned in Chapel Hill at the site of a former confederate monument that was removed last year and then are traveling en masse here..to the city in which I live...to have a rally less then ten minutes from my home.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.,"-MLK Jr

THIS has encompassed most of my mental and emotional space this week, and resulted in countless conversations. But that was the starting point for all of it. Im going to lay out a bunch of factual details surround this, some factual history you can look up to confirm yourself, then a strongly worded call to faith and action for my friends here. Ive felt this is necessary after countless conversations this week with people who didn't get the details of all of the happenings in our city or who just didn't feel this mattered as much. I believe we are held accountable for what we know, knowledge changes your level of responsibility and I want to make sure that anyone and everyone I know has the opportunity to stand up and stand with and stand against the evil of racism and white supremacy in our own city.

"Seek the welfare of the city into which I have sent you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare." -Jeremiah 29:7

First of all, there is a confederate monument in Winston Salem. See it HERE I even spoke with some people that were not aware of that this week. There is. A statue of a confederate soldier with the words "Our Confederate Dead" disgraces the corner of 4th and Liberty in downtown Winston Salem next to the courthouse. It has been defaced a few times in the last year or so and on Emancipation Day, January 1st 2019 the Mayor of Winston Salem told a crowd that the city attorney, Angela Carmon, sent a letter to the United Daughters of the Confederacy and told them to move their monument by January 31st. Read about this HERE The city has offered and still offered to relocate it to the Salem Cemetery where there are 36 graves of confederate soldiers. The UDC said No and threatened legal action a few days later. That pretty much set up my January, and I wish it had for you too. Confederate groups clamored to action and decided to come to Winston to rally this Sunday, TOMORROW, on January 13th from 1-3pm. The UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) asked them not to have a rally, so the groups of confederate supporters said they would instead still show up en masse but they are going to pray and lay flowers and demonstrate that way. Read about this HERE. Faith leaders and socially aware people and activists for justice decided to meet the confederate supporters in an attempt to counter hate, white supremacy, and the unjust and murderous legacy of the confederacy. (Don't worry, Ill explain all those words a bit later to settle any ignorant/ unbelieving or skeptical hearts). I joined that planning committee and plan be a faithful presence at the gathering on Sunday to witness for the gospel of Jesus Christ, to look towards the interests of my brothers and sisters (of color) (Phil 2:4), To follow in the footsteps of Jesus as He said the Lord sent him to bind up the broken hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18) and to bear the burdens of my brothers and sisters (of color)(Galatians 6:2) that are enduring as the privilege and legacy of white supremacy endures.

Also, when any one looks out and sees white people standing there misquoting scripture and misrepresenting Jesus while waving a confederate flag, I want to be there also as a white person holding up the full truth of the gospel and waving a theoretical flag and fighting spiritually and socially for the truth that all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). When people who look like me fight to honor a legacy that enslaved Africans peoples to do their work on the ground right here in this city and state in which I live, I want to stand next to them and fight for justice and for their liberation from that terror. I do not seek to erase history. I wish the schools here more fully taught that history and how brutal and terror filled and genocidal and muderous and sadistic and enduring and calculated this slavery was. Inhumane. Evil. In accordance with the devil and in no way representing the God of the Bible. I wish the true history was shouted from the rooftops of white neighborhoods like Sherwood Forest, Buena Vista, Ardmore, Etc. Where some white people live in castles and black people live across town in near shacks in a state that is stained with the blood of ancestors of our Black brothers and sisters. And how this city is full of visible racial inequity in housing and schools and city resources that are lasting vestiges of slavery and the following Jim Crow period where over 100 black people were lynched in the state of North Carolina from 1877-1950. You can see a county by county breakdown of lynching HERE

I said 1950, did you hear me?

And those are just on record public lynchings. You know, public record and completely unprosecuted because it was legal to just kill black people.

LAMENT. the blood and lives of these people cry out all around you, do you have a heart that hears it?

Repent. White people, we still benefit from this history. And our Black brothers and sisters are still terrorized by it and they still are oppressed by it.

As Christians we discuss reconciliation a whole lot. More and more white christians seem to be finally (much too slowly) allowing the words of racial reconciliation to roll off their tongues. Reconciliation can only happen when followed by true repentance. Are you able to repent for the ways that your privilege oppresses and allows the oppression of your minority brothers and sisters?  Are you able to repent for keeping silent in the face of their suffering? Your silence in not peace. You think it benefits you, but it only benefits the oppressors. Your inaction allows this oppression to continue. The Lord desires us to seek the welfare of our city because our welfare is tied up with it. (Jeremiah 29) Our freedom and faith is tied to the freedom of our Black brothers and sisters. We are not free while they are terrorized and oppressed. There is a statue that stands to that oppression downtown in the city in which you live. What are you doing about that?

You have read my words, I guess you could choose not to believe them, but you are responsible for the knowledge that you possess.

HERE I wrote a blog with the voices of 25 of my African American friends using their own words to tell you about how confederate monuments and flag make them feel. Don't believe me, but can you shake aside their truth?

This monument was not erected at the end of the civil war in 1865 to honor the dead as closure.

This monument was not built in the period directly following, called the Reconstruction, as this was a time of Black flourishing from 1863-1877.

The monument in OUR city was erected in 1905, during a time when white supremacy was on the rise and was called the era of Lynch mob rule. Alfred Wadell was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the monument in downtown Winston. Wadell is a known racist, white supremacist and is documented as publicly saying, "If you find a Negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls. If he refuses, kill him, shoot him down in his tracks." He was a leader among white supremacists in Wilmington and before the race riot in Wilmington that shot him to notorious fame he threatened to "run the Cape fear rive red with the blood of negroes." A keynote speaker sets the tone for an event, and this is who was chosen to speak at the unveiling ceremony of the monument that still stands in our town. Read about this HERE and HERE

I have met very few people who have actually said to me that they do not think the Confederacy was about preserving slavery. I can only think of 4 people. But that is 4 too many. I know several people have said that to my husband, including someone he has considered a friend at the time.

I think a good indication of the cause of the war or the true catalyst issue would be to listen to the states themselves. They all issued papers of secession as to why they were formally seceding from the union. Every single one of them.
A few states went further and wrote more elaborate papers called declarations.
In every single secession, Every. Single. One....Slavery and the preservation of it was the top of the list.
It was followed closely by the issue of States rights.....to preserve slavery. States rights was another word to say we want to maintain our states right to have slavery.
Also listed as a third reason was the election of Lincoln....because his policies and purposes were hostile to slavery.

Im not adding any personal commentary.  This is literally available to you to read for yourself as a historical document at any library or online for free. These are facts. Articles of Secession.
But here is link that makes words clusters from all the papers to identify themes for easy consumption by readers and breaks down all of the reasons for secession listed by percentage.
(Here is a spoiler: Slavery is the number one reason that each state seceded from the union and entered the civil war) Read about that HERE.
Also, the Vice President of the Confederacy literally said publicly the war was about the issue of Slavery.

 Im struggling with not turning what Im hoping is an informational yet passionate blog into an argumentative essay. I have little hope to change the minds of people who are firmly entrenched in supporting their "rights" to support and fly the confederate flag or "celebrate" a grievous history.  My desire, a passion I have come into, is to educate and enliven the hearts of those that are ignorant on these matters.  I want to contend for the hearts and minds of those people who really don't know. Im all the way here for that.

My husband has a friend here in the south that said out of his mouth to him, "Slavery was bad. But like, it wasn't as bad as the Holocaust."  My husband is kind, non-violent, tested, brown skinned African American Christian man. Yes he is.

Read that again.

I will not make a case comparing world shattering, generationally devastating tragedies. But again, the lack of education of white people on their own history is so completely devastating and this week THIS WEEK that spotlight is again shining as I speak with people who seem to be lukewarm about this issue.

Here are a few numbers for you just to glance upon:

Estimated that 10 million African people were brought here to the US in chains. Rough estimation is that at least 4 million died in Africa in the raids and slave encampments while waiting to be shipped to our country, and at least one million more died on the Middle passage over the Atlantic here to our country.
We are looking at a ballpark figure of 15.5 million people made in the Image of Christ.
Then lets factor in their children, and their childrens children, and then all the subsequent generations after that..... which isn't that many until we find ourselves with our brothers and sisters today who carry this brutal history in their souls while we go on about our lives in our white neighborhoods and white churches and white schools as if we are neutral.
(To save you time from googling that you could use for lamenting on your knees, the devastation of the Holocaust was said to have slaughtered approximately 11 million souls made in the Image of God).

You have an opportunity tomorrow to come and stand with us, our friends, and several other leaders of faith, activists for social justice, ordinary every day people who believe in the freedom and flourishing of Black people in our city and showing up tomorrow is a way to begin to enter into that hope. To stand in a space that was designed to honor and celebrate that murderous legacy and to incite fear in the black population of Winston Salem, and you can stand there with me and praise the name of Jesus who calls people of all nations to Himself and who cares deeply about this issue of oppression.
And then when the white people who look just like me and maybe you show up? We can stand for truth and justice and put our faith to action with our feet.

Its not that the confederate soldiers didn't fight bravely. Im sure they did. But so did the Nazis.
Sadly, the confederate soldiers were on the wrong side of history. There is no shame in Jesus Christ, but there is repentance and forgiveness. We as Christians need to stand for historical, intellectual and moral honesty. We need a movement of lament and white repentance and it starts with us, the church. Lets follow the examples of the genocides that were the Holocaust and in Rwanda and follow their repentance and disavowal of that period of history with a movement of repentance and action.

Lets tell the history and remember it somberly so as to not repeat it.

Your voice matters. Your presence matters. The way you do or do not teach your children about this matters. Your prayers matter. Your feet matter. And Black Lives Matter. So let's act like it.

**This blog and many of the ideas in it were formed from my faith in Jesus Christ, but also from time spent this week with Miranda Jones, Reverend Ford and Doctor Eversly and extensive messaging and texting with my Pastor Giorgio Hiatt and an elder also from my church, Rob Alexander.
I have written a blog here from my own thoughts and passions but many sentences were contrived from notes I took while listening to them speak and message me this week as we sought to plan a faithful presence to stand for Truth and Justice.

It was also formed and cultivated by many leaders and thinkers and writers, a few that I want to give credit to now:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -MLK Jr.

"Nobody is free til everybody is Free." - Fannie Lou Hamer

"Seek the welfare of the city into which I have sent you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare." -Jeremiah 29:7

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -MLK Jr

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever humans endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." -Elie Wiesel

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest it." -Elie Wiesel


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