After the Rallies, the Real Work


Philadelphia March. Photo from the News and Observer

By Will O’Brien

The Wednesday following the violence in Charlottesville, I joined with thousands of people in Philadelphia, mostly persons of faith, to march in the streets and rally.  The energy was high, the anger was rife, and the sense of energy to change palpable.  As distressing as the events were that precipitated this march, it felt good to be there.

But it also stirred some long-standing concerns and questions of mine.  This was partly the result of recently picking up off the shelf my old copy of Will D. Campbell’s memoir Brother to a Dragonfly, a book that had a powerful impact on me when I first read it over thirty years ago.  Campbell was a Southern Baptist preacher from rural Tennessee who became an important leader in the civil rights movement.  As a white southern man, he was part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  His radical understanding of the gospel and his own discernment of the racial crisis in his home region led him to the conviction that “Jesus died for the bigots as well,” and he took to a very controversial ministry among Ku Klux Klan members.  Ornery and wickedly funny, Campbell often cut through the pretensions and hypocrisies of many white liberal activists. Continue reading

Sermon: On Charlottesville

index.jpgBy Ross M. Reddick, Pastor
A gospel message delivered to Spanish Fort Presbyterian Church
Text: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Today’s scripture lesson is about hatred, and the results of hatred. Joseph’s brothers hated him. The reasons why, while they are important for a full understanding, seem to fade in importance today.

As our session met yesterday in the fellowship hall, as we were laughing together, making plans, praying and visioning, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia…erupted. Violently. As of last night, dozens of serious injuries are being dealt with by the medical community there, and at least three have died–two police officers (in the line of duty), and a 32 year old woman…crushed to death as a car intentionally rammed through a crowd of people.  Continue reading

And Not a Moment Before

CvilleBy Tommy Airey, co-editor of

On Friday, in preparation for this past weekend’s neo-fascist march and rally in Charlottesville, Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia, cited “the right of every American to deny those ideas more attention than they deserve.” He strongly encouraged people to stay away from the counter-protest.  As if oppressors and abusers just go away if we don’t confront them with our humanity.  As if level-headedness and moderation have ever saved those catching hell.

However, this was far from the first time that McAuliffe has distanced himself from the militant nonviolent tradition of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who, while in a Birmingham cell, rejected “the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea” of white moderate clergy.  Jyarland Daniels, the founder of the racial equity organization Harriet Speaks, reminded me recently that, in the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential election, McAuliffe, a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, worked tirelessly to ensure that (mostly black) ex-felons could get the right to vote. This is significant because McAuliffe’s support (with most of the Democratic Party establishment) for mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders and felon disenfranchisement laws have crippled black families and neighborhoods for decades. Continue reading

Encircle Them With Energetic Encouragement


An important message about dismantling white supremacy in Charlottesville, VA tomorrow (right: flyer for the event).  From Sarah Thompson, the executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams:

First and foremost I want to send love to you all.

Thank you for who you are and the work that you are doing in the world.

It is important. You are courageous. Now is the time to grow our souls.

Please read on.

This weekend, a racist rally is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia called “Unite the Right.” You can read about it online (poster attached). This article by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors “hate groups and other extremists,” warns that the rally could be “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.” The convergence of alt-right folks has been emboldened by the national administration, and they do have a sense of their world falling apart. They chose Charlottesville to rally after that city’s vote to remove the Confederate statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Their goal is to bring white people on the right wing together, out from the shadow of the internet, so they can cultivate real relationships and craft a palatable platform to build more political power. The images they chose for the rally draw from Nazi-era propoganda. Continue reading


geez black lives matter

“White Silence Kills” Theresa Zettner and Midwest Catholic Workers shut down baseball traffic calling for Justice for Jamar in Minneapolis.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

An attempt to grasp for words when it feels like there aren’t any.

I’ve never seen
A gun.
up close
In my face.
Never seen one drawn
In threat
Or aim
Or play
Or hunt
Never heard the trigger
Or felt the fear.
It is my privilege upon privilege upon privilege. Continue reading

White Supremacy: The Air We Breathe

An alley just off 23rd & Butternut in Detroit.

An alley just off 23rd & Butternut in Detroit.

By Tommy Airey
The Confederacy is a southern thing, but white supremacy is not.
Bree Newsome

Economist Paul Krugman came out with a piece last week in The New York Times lambasting the South for its ongoing racist drama, while proclaiming “we really have become much less racist, and in general a much more tolerant society on many fronts.”

He scaffolded his arguments with two key economic studies: one that studied the massive white working class exodus away from the Democratic Party in the 70s and 80s (the Southern Strategy) and another that pegged the downsizing of the U.S. welfare state to racial discrimination. Krugman argues that, unfortunately, these forces are still very powerful in the U.S., beckoning readers to take a quick glance at the states that have denied Medicaid expansion to its residents. Surprise, surprise: almost of them are in the South.
Continue reading

Dylann Roof & Our Myth

DylanThe finger points at us. If we actually do want the country to behave differently towards peoples of color here and abroad—it is “we,” who are white and content, who must change and do so radically. Anything less than the equivalent of real reparations and real political confrontation in the streets is simply more of the same.
By Jim Perkinson, long-time activist and educator from inner city Detroit & the author of White Theology: Outing Supremacy in Modernity (2004)

One of the great fears of white people in the early 19th century was that if slaves were given any quarter at all, whites would rapidly be enslaved by blacks. So much as one moment of unpunished black response to white domination—even as seemingly minor as merely looking the master in the eyes—would mean, in short order, that the tables would be turned. Thus the “necessary” brutality of the peculiar institution (portrayed, for even Hollywood audiences, in the recent filmic depiction, “Twelve Years a Slave”).
Continue reading