OnOctober 10, 1905, a human life was taken from chronicles of time. Robbed of divine purpose by a cowardly pack. A soul of a Man, anchor of a family, providence of a community, and The potential of Our Nation has been forgotten. No remnants of his impact. No grave, No glory, No gesture of Justice from the body politic...The Sun continued to rise and set amidst the decaying lifeless body placed in the ground…. A seed crying out for justice refuses to sprout..The deafening tyranny of terror has hardened the topsoil of Our hearts….And We All remain buried...
On the occasion of his final presentation as executive director of LSP Memphis, I wanted to add my voice to the continuing chorus of accolades for his outstanding service to this deeply important work. I can think of no one who stands higher in my humble regard than John Ashworth. He brings to this work a zeal and seriousness that does not allow one to ignore the truth to which he bears relentless witness. He is an ever flowing fountain of inspiration and stimulation. He never speaks without divulging pertinent and timeless truth.
As I have absorbed the horrors of the latest lynching of a black person by allegedly frightened white people, I have tried to give words to a thought that has been percolating for me for some time – which is, as black people arrived on these shores in chains, and have been brutalized, oppressed and subjugated ever since, and are a minority in America – what is the basis of this white irrational fear of the black body?
The ritual of soil collection is an integral part of our work of remembering and lamenting the great horrors of racial violence committed throughout our land and in this very county.
Lives were viciously taken without due process or legal consideration of any kind. It was a form of racial violence calculated to discount and trivialize persons of color even to the extent of desecrating the remains of the victims and denying to kin and friend the decency of burial and sacred remembrance. These victims' lives were snatched from public memory as if they never lived.
On Saturday, October 19, 2019, the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis dedicated two markers to African American victims lynched in Shelby County, Tennessee. One was killed in 1851 and the other in 1869. I have long contended that there is a straight line between the events of yesteryear and the way African Americans are treated and perceived by very powerful and influential voices today.
The name of the 1851 victim is unknown, but for purposes of this article, I refer to him as George. The 1869 victim was Wash Henley.
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
A Sermon on Luke 6:27-36
Sometimes, you just have to tear up your sermon and start all over again. That's what Traci Blackmon, a black United Church of Christ pastor said to Mike Kinman, a white Episcopal priest, the day after Michael Brown was shot and died in Ferguson, Missouri - August 9, 2014.