Thursday, May 3, 2018

"A Southern Pilgrimage for Equal Justice " by Rev. Diane Dougherty, ARCWP


Beloved Community talks on the evils of Racism, Poverty and Militarism at the King Center, Atlanta, GA

In the last two months I realized I have been on a pilgrimage of sorts through the sacred spaces in the South where it was hoped that the blood spilled would bear fruit in gaining access to equality and human rights for African Americans.
In early March I walked over the Edmond Pettis Bridge in Selma with friends from WCEG and colleagues from the Concerned Black Clergy, as well as with thousands of ordinary people onthe 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. In April, I joined hundreds of academic,political and religious leaders at the King Center, focusing on MLK’s call once
again to address the evils of Racism, Poverty and Militarism woven into the fabric of our society. I also marched in Decatur, GA at a Black Lives Matter Rally to the courthouse that will hold the trial of the Police Officer that killed an unarmed veteran Anthony Hill. And I have just returned from Montgomery, AL where America’s first concrete tribute to the southern African American genocide is
visualized at the National Peace and Justice Lynching and Legacy Museums.

This spiritual pilgrimage has given me a new kind of corrective lenses. By unearthing the once hidden underground of southern white supremacy embedded as DNA in all social structures within our cities, towns and people, an intense light shines on America’s volatile past and states, “This America is also our heritage,” and asks, “What America do we want to become?”

Social Architecture of the South
From its very beginnings, the south was built on the backs of those who were let out of English debtor’s prisons. They in turn would enslave others to build their plantations creating legacies as mini kings. From indentured servitude, to the purchasing of others, generations of slaves and immigrants built up the cities and towns of the south. Southern society reinvented itself on the same economic platform experienced in England, one based in the capitalistic goals of gaining wealth for a few over the many.
The DNA of wealth building so intimately tied to those social structures seemed to be imprinted in the minds of us all. As noted in a cursive study of the beginnings of societies from ancient times, when the biblical Joseph was “sold” into Egypt and his family migrated there to become enslaved; to the ancient Aztec society that raised itself on the backs of lower class workers; to the imperialist governance of the English, French and Roman cultures who invaded foreign nations imposing their culture by using every act of domination for the very purpose of extracting wealth for their own gain. Following suit in a

Walking and singing over the Edmond Pettis Bridge
multitude of parallel forms were Christian religious group that patterned themselves after the same social architecture...gaining wealth for a few on the lives of the many, noting that the common denominator of all forms of governance was legal and justifiable social domination.

That social domination can now be visualized through the art and architecture of both museums-a stark recognition of the southern white man’s fear of equality with the black man, sanctioned by the silent fear of the masses, in spite of our constitution and belief that all citizens have aright to equal justice under the law.

The 4400 metal tombs hang like the branches from
which African Americans swung, with the names of
men, women and children lynched in the 805 counties of the south.
uncovered by the Equal Justice Initiative, these tombs rise in a silent crescendo with a side row of markers naming the justification that hijacked the American legal system for a parallel system of injustice based in legalized notions of white


Painstakingly
As I have come to understand how my white privilege intersects with systems that
marginalize, I am simultaneously ingesting how distance and boundaries are maintained. Education, housing, churches, and job opportunity allow the few to achieve the American dream, while many invisible hands within our legal and economic systems, judges, courts and police deliver unequal justice to minorities keeping them oppressed. Presently, these are the mechanisms maintaining strong barriers to equal justice that need to be examined and rebuilt. What can I contribute to bring about change? The King Center made a great suggestion-one that I feel I have the power to do.

Solutions? It starts with one...

I have decided to continue my uncomfortable journey by gathering others to have hard conversations. Ending the Beloved Community talks, we were asked to consider sponsoring Civic Dinners- to promote hard conversations within diverse settings. Using the tools offered, I have agreed to use my home to begin the process, -continuing my pilgrimage into the hearts and minds of those gathered. In future blogs on this matter, I will share the fruit of this labor.

Enlightening Podcasts:
Buried Truths
Someone Knows Something

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