An Exuberant Apostle of Racial Justice
As we all struggle to understand the complexities of race in our country and around the world, I am left to wonder where in the world will we now find a true spokesman for racial equality and nonviolence? Now, more than ever, we need leaders from our faith communities that can inspire us. Where will we find another Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, WEB DuBois, Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Gahdhi, Susan B. Anthony, Elie Wiesel, Dorothy Height? Bishop Tutu will be missed on the world stage. The Washington Post describes him as an “exuberant apostle of racial justice in South Africa” and states that he explained his devotion to social justice in religious terms, saying his “Christian faith demanded that he speak out for the underdog and the oppressed.” There are many individuals fighting for civil rights and social justice, but who are the leaders in the faith community that are now our most influential civil rights leaders? As I sit here and wonder about who are the most influential civil rights leaders since 2000, I am reminded of a recently compiled a list of well-known activists after reviewing biographies and news stories from resource material, websites of organizations such as the NAACP, the Nobel Prize website, and media sites. That list is composed of civil rights leaders who are still very active and are working in various fields – from racial justice to support for formerly incarcerated women and religious liberties. On that list, we find Esmeralda Simmons, James Rucker, Lateefah Simon, Nihad Awad, Ciara Taylor, Opal Tometi, Van Jones and others…but where are the charismatic faith leaders who believe in non-violence and that can deliver messages that are not muddled – or contradictory? Does our current movement lack a spiritual center? Again, I wonder who are, and where are our faith leaders today on civil rights and social justice?