Exploring Issues of Faith & Race
Reflecting on Frederick Douglass’ 4th of July Speech
The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms. In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which asks all of us to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.
Is America Possible?
Vincent Harding was wise about how the vision of the civil rights movement might speak to 21st-century realities. He reminded us that the movement of the ’50s and ’60s was spiritually as well as politically vigorous; it aspired to a “beloved community,” not merely a tolerant integrated society. He pursued this through patient-yet-passionate cross-cultural, cross-generational relationships. And he posed and lived a question that is freshly in our midst: Is America possible? Listen to his 2011 interview with Krista Tippett. Harding died in 2014.
Faith & Race Group
It is more important than ever that people in the church and our nation confront the hard realities of racial injustice, repent of our own attitudes and actions of prejudice and witness to a vision of God’s Kin-dom where we treat one another as beloved brothers and sisters.
For the last several years, SPUMC’s Faith & Race Group has been meeting monthly to explore how our core Christian values call us to treat people of all cultures and races with dignity, respect and love. We have been reading some of the best books on the history of racism in our country and the church, the hard realities of what it means to be a person of color in a culture of systemic racism (whether it be South Africa or the US), what it takes to raise children who are anti-racist and other resources that help us understand the intersection between faith and race.
We have also gone to movies together that deal seriously with issues of race (Just Mercy, Harriet) and have other field trips planned to visit historic sites in Annapolis, the African American Museum and the Underground Railroad Museum near Cambridge, MD. Mostly, we have been having honest, heart-searching and heart-breaking conversations about our own attitudes and practices related to race as we seek to become more faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
Our meetings are always open and you are very welcome to join us anytime. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm. Our new book for this month called, How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and you can join us for conversation about this go-to book on Tuesday, July 28 at 7pm via Zoom.
SPUMC Speaks Out Against Racism
The staff recently put out a video statement in response to the protests about the horrific death of George Floyd that are taking place all over our country. As Christians and leaders of this faith community, we feel compelled to speak because to remain silent is to be complicit with this evil system of racism that continues to infect and affect us all — black and white. All Christians are called to love our neighbors and to work for God’s justice after the example of Jesus and the teaching of the Hebrew prophets. You can view the video here.
A text version of the full speech is available here.
2019 Guggenheim Fellow and New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi will discuss his renowned book “How to Be an Antiracist” on Monday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m. with Dr. Charlene M. Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College. Dr. Dukes is the first African-American woman to serve as president of the College and has 30 years of progressive leadership experience and administrative responsibility in higher education. The conversation will be streamed live online on Crowdcast, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter/Periscope, and will air on PGCC TV on a later date.
Praised as “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind” (New York Times), Kendi’s groundbreaking work has provided a major new counterpoint in the national conversation about race in America and resonates in this, our collective moment of reckoning. To sign up for this event, click here.
Books We Have Read Together
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Blindspot by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Other Recommended Books
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Dear Church: A Love Letter From a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US by Lenny Duncan
How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone