Magazine article The Christian Century

National Clergy Issue Interracial Call for Justice

Magazine article The Christian Century

National Clergy Issue Interracial Call for Justice

Article excerpt

AS Barbara Williams-Skinner collected signatures for a statement by leaders of African-American church groups about the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting of Michael Brown, she found more people wanted to join in.

The general secretary of the National Council of Churches wanted to add his name, along with an Asian-American evangelical leader.

What started out as the "Joint Statement of Heads of Historic African American Church Denominations" has become an interracial cry for justice.

"It's touching hearts of people who have sons and who know that their sons would not be treated this way," said Williams-Skinner, cochair of the National African-American Clergy Network, on August 21. "They know it's wrong. They know it's wrong before God. And they are responding on a human level."

The statement, also spearheaded by Otis Moss Jr. and T. DeWitt Smith, veteran civil rights activists, calls on African-American churches to memorialize Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teen who was shot and killed by a white police officer on August 9. It also urges contributions to a national fund to assist his family with pending legal expenses.

"In light of the long and bloody trail of lynching, deaths, and killings of African-American youth from Emmett Till, to Trayvon Martin, to Michael Brown, and scores of others throughout our nation, we call for action, justice, and the transformation of our society," the letter reads.

The statement calls for greater voter participation and replacing elected officials with others who "represent the preservation of life in ethnic communities where a disproportionate amount of killings, unsubstantiated sentencing, and jail time are unwarranted means for perpetuating racism and bias against ethnic minorities. …

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