The Faith in Public Life Immersion Trip was a time for reflection, new connections, challenging dialogue, and a renewed sense of strength and hope for the journeys ahead. 2018 marked the fiftieth anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, among other world-changing events in 1968. Our world continues to be ravaged by the evils of toxic theology, xenophobia, Afrophobia, sexism, capitalism, racism, and militarism. Therefore, during the immersion trip, we examined the role that theology, faith, Black Women, and the Black Church play in confronting and challenging systems of oppression from then until now.
Montgomery and Birmingham contain sites considered to be sacred grounds. Returning to these sacred sites, we honor our people's sacrifices, models of resistance, and creative genius. At the same time, we encounter historical accounts and markers of the slave trade, enslavement, and the ongoing subjugation of Black people due to the tireless efforts of the custodians of our history who brought truth to light. Activities included teach-ins, rituals, memorial and museum tours, and intentional dialogue that helped gain a broader vision of God’s steadfast hand of grace and call to divine justice as it was manifested in the lives of many then and still today.
For over 400 years, Black people have felt the effects of racial inequality and injustice. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most significant leaders in the civil rights movement, devoted his life to addressing these issues – fighting to end racial segregation, advocating for justice through peaceful protest, and challenging systemic racism. Unfortunately, we continue to face some of the same challenges. The battle for the soul of this nation continues. The current climate demands us to take action to end police brutality, voter suppression, anti-reproductive laws, human rights violations, and hyper-capitalism. To honor the life and legacy of Dr. King while confronting all forms of physical and structural violence, Friendship-West Baptist Church host Annual King Teach-Ins.
Racial violence against Black people in America has its roots in slavery; however, post-Emancipation Proclamation, blacks made significant strides. During the Reconstruction Era, blacks increased their literacy rates, built educational institutes, started mutual aid and beneficial societies, elected state and federal senators and representatives, built entire independent cities and towns, and continued developing the black church. Unfortunately, with this progress, black people experienced a deadly backlash. Various forms of physical and structural violence emerged to resist the progress and accomplishments of blacks in America. Lynching, rape, and the destruction of property became the weapons of choice to strike fear and terror in black people. In addition, white power structures instituted public policies and laws to stop and reverse the progress made by blacks and stripped blacks of their fundamental human rights.
Nevertheless, black people persisted, survived, and thrived against incredible odds. One of the areas of progress that whites resisted the most was economic advancement. Economic independence brought unprecedented capital and pride to black communities. The most documented resistance against black economic progress and competition was in the South. The Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was an all-black enclave of economic prosperity. While the all-black Greenwood district stood in the tradition of other prosperous black neighborhoods, towns, and cities, it was our crowning jewel. The history of the Greenwood district is a story and speaks to the determination, strong sense of identity, collective work, and practice of cooperative economics of blacks in the early 1900s. To honor our ancestors of the Greenwood District and the legacy of Black Wall Street, Friendship West Baptist Church host the 100th Commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
"For the first seven decades of the 20th century, no school of thought within any mainstream law school focused on a critical evaluation of race and racism, even though we lived through the Era of Jim Crow during these seven decades. This explains why mainstream law schools were not at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement was framed by key contributors like Howard Law School Dean Charles Hamilton Houston and several of his proteges, such as lawyers like Thurgood Marshall, Spotswood Robertson, Constance Baker-Motley, and Robert Carter. However, by the 1970s, Derrick Bell, a lawyer, professor, and civil rights activist, laid the foundation for critical race theory at Harvard Law School. By the 1980s, an array of scholars, many of them people of color, had begun to seriously examine how law can sometimes create, maintain, and promote racial discrimination. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the reconceptualization of how we think about equal protection questions in the post-civil rights era. It teaches that we must come to understand the pervasive and harmful implications of institutional and systemic forms of racism and bigotry of all sorts." To provide knowledge and expose misinformation around Critical Race Theory, Friendship West Baptist Church hosted a two-part CRT series.