Don’t attack black pastors for helping families

The black church in America has played a disproportionate role in the experience of black Americans – for good. For a people whose American history began with the experience of slavery and whose journey since then has been marked by trauma and the psychic scars of systemic racism, the Black Church has been a source of power, a balm and a force for positive change.

So it was shocking, but not surprising, when the lawyer for one of the men accused of stalking and killing Ahmaud Arbery objected to black pastors coming to Brunswick, Georgia, to show solidarity. in prayer with the Arbery family during the trial.

Kevin Gough, an attorney for William “Roddie” Bryan, told judge he “didn’t want black pastors to come here anymore” after Reverend Al Sharpton led a prayer vigil with the Arbery family outside , then sat down with them. in class.

You will recall Bryan being charged with murder for repeatedly attempting to confine and detain Arbery using his vehicle, according to the warrants.

Fight against injustice

Arbery’s death has been compared to a modern day lynching – a black man is suspected of a felony without proof and is then summarily executed by a white mob without trial or any other form of due process guaranteed by our Constitution.

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Lynchings are a staple part of our history – nearly 3,500 black people were lynched between 1882 and 1968 according to NAACP estimates. Black pastors played a pivotal role in their denunciation, calling white pastors to account as Christians and serving as the conscience of the nation.

Many paid a high price for their advocacy, including Florida pastor IT Burgess, who was hanged in 1894 and a pastor from Paris, Texas, Reverend King, who was beaten and kicked out of town for raising the voice.

Like that king, the famous black pastor of the same name, Martin Luther King, Jr., suffered threats and persecution for raising awareness of racial injustices in the nation – and paying the ultimate price for his advocacy.

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In addition to fighting injustice, the Black Church has historically given black Americans a sense of community, the opportunity for leadership, respect and solace amid daily and relentless threats, violence and others. overt expressions of deep systemic racism. In other words, the black pastors have been a balm in the face of horrible pain.

A mural by Ahmaud Arbery is on display in Brunswick, Georgia, where the 25-year-old was shot and killed in February 2020. It was painted by Miami artist Marvin Weeks.

Ahmaud Arbery’s parents suffered the unspeakable loss of their son, who was hunted down, cornered and gunned down for being a black jogging in a white neighborhood. It is the worst nightmare and constant worry of all black parents. They deserve the balm that the black pastors can give them. One hundred or even 1000 would not be too much.

Ben Crump is a civil rights lawyer and founder of the national law firm Ben Crump Law. He represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery.

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