Guest Post By: Reverend Richard H. Coleman, Pastor of Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church.
There is a torturous irony between the current American culture that allows persistent violence against African Americans and the passionate thirst for freedom, equity, and justice that led people to compose the “Declaration of Independence.” As we process the murder of Mr. George Floyd, it would be good for every American to consider theses words penned on that 1776 document.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
By the time these words had been written, white men had laid siege to much of this continent for more than 250 years. For more than 150 years they had plowed the same ground and harvested its fruit by the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved African people. One of the signers of the Declaration, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a nationally renowned physician had, by 1787, developed a partnership with The Reverend Richard Allen who purchased his freedom through brilliant entrepreneurial enterprise. That was the year, thirteen years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that Allen, Rev. Absalom Jones, and others left the racially oppressive St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in
Philadelphia to worship God without white governance. Dr. Rush saw in the Declaration of Independence a mandate to support Allen’s leadership for the liberation and empowerment of people of African heritage. With Dr. Rush’s support, Richard Allen led the formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church which has flourished despite white supremacy and racism.
As Dr. Rush, a white man of position and power invested in black leadership to right the wrongs within his scope, we need white leaders today to commit to upholding the humanity of African American people. I want to emphatically state that there is no path to victory over systemic iniquity without systemic, Spirit-filled ministry. Furthermore, God’s work is thwarted by men and women who refuse to confess that their sins of omission in naming and dismantling white supremacy contribute to the perpetuation of a culture that allows people to abide with black genocide.
I call on my sisters and brothers of faith to act. Do it now. Connect in declaring the truths of God’s assurance of liberty for everyone and renounce the systems and structures that foster this climate that tolerates black genocide. We need white leaders, especially church leaders, to do what no one else can. You are they who must toe the line against systemic injustice. There will be no peace in this nation until you do because there can be no reconciliation where the seeds of justice and righteousness are not sown and cultivated.