Saturday – June 6 on the Green
from Steven Charleston
(Retired Episcopal Bishop, member of the Choctaw Nation)
Still the fires of our hearts, Spirit of peace, and temper the words we use. Calm our passions so that we may think more clearly. Let reason guide our actions and compassion remind us that we are all of one family. Help us focus on what is most important: justice for one man and health for thousands more. Come now, Spirit of healing, for there is much to be done to repair our community. Stop the violence. Subdue the virus. Open wide the path to our transformation. Pour out your love to anoint each one of us, whatever our politics may be, whichever side of the barrier we have stood on, that we may find that same love waiting for us in the world we remake together. Amen.
Anthony & Isabella arrived on the shores of this country along with at least 20 others in August of 1619 in an English vessel, The White Lion, having been taken captive from West central Africa. They were sold to Virginia’s governor and the colony’s supply officer in return for food and supplies.
In 1624, Anthony &, Isabella’s son, William, was baptized at the local Anglican Church in Hampton, Virginia. His baptized name was William Tucker due to the fact his parents worked on the land and were owned by Capt. William Tucker. No other records exist about this family or their second child.
William was baptized in a church like mine but was never seen as an equal part of the community, he was probably bought and sold to other farms, by white Christians who believed they had a right to do so.
400 years later we are still dealing with the scourge of slavery in this country.
“Slavery didn’t end in 1865, it evolved,” as Bryan Stevenson puts it.
Lynchings and segregation, red lining and mass incarceration.
We watched that same evil, squeeze the life out of George Floyd as he cried “I can’t breathe” and “Momma, I love you” (an evil that is still is attacking peaceful protestors)
Do we really believe black lives matter?
We rang our bells in this town for months, to celebrate our commonality & our hope during this pandemic. A pandemic that affected people of color in greater numbers.
And the ringing reminded me of the great English poet, John Donne, who heard the bell ringing from a nearby church & penned these words:
“any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."
Our nation’s bells continue to ring for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery…
They ring because racism continues to haunt us and exact a terrible toll on people of color. For we have not dealt with our history to make a better future for all.
In 1951, Langston Hughes wrote the poem Harlem, and it could have been written today…
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
In 2020, it exploded after an unjust death. Do we really believe black lives matter?
For the sake of George Floyd, for the sake of all who have wrongly suffered, and for the sake of us all, we need to work together in the spirit of peace to be “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Because Black Lives Matter!