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An Exuberant Apostle of Racial Justice

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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?

Posted by Connie Harshaw

A chance to talk with Jesse Cole

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As I stare at the portrait of Mr. Jesse Cole, I cannot help but think that the members of the First Baptist Church Nassau Street Descendant Community and I would like to spend a few minutes with him. We want to hear what compelled him to donate land and a building to free and enslaved African Americans here in Williamsburg to gather and worship. As we struggle in the 21st century with the unresolved and difficult conversation on race in Virginia, and in the country, we feel that he could perhaps help us to understand a lot by sharing the reason for his decision. It had to be an unpopular and even dangerous position to take centuries ago. What could it have been? Was it his faith in a God that loves us all? We need just a few minutes with you Mr. Cole.

Posted by Connie Harshaw with 1 Comments

Remembering Langston Hughes During Black History Month

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I was recently reminded of a poem that I studied in the 7th grade. A new and dear friend read the poem to me and Pastor Davis on the way to an interview during Black History Month. It is a very powerful reminder of what I felt in 1967, and here we are in 2018 and the words are just as powerful.  Here are a few of the lines, but please search for it on the internet and sit quietly and read "Let America Be America Again", a poem written in 1935 by American poet Langston Hughes. I am embarrassed that, at this time the words still ring true to me. 

...O, let America be America again —
The land that never has been yet —
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine — the poor man's, Indian's,
Negro's, ME —
Who made America…
Posted by Connie Harshaw