Lift Every Voice and Sing, An Anti-racism Reader for Everyone: Art-In-Action | Faith-In-Action | Love-In-Action | Truth-In-Action | Witness-In-Action
Writings, art, protest photos, prayers, reflections, statements, stories, and more from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary community all created in the first month - June - of the Summer of 2020 protests in support of BLM show how faith in Jesus Christ can help us be active anti-racists. 53 pages. PDF file. These writings are also available in the Anti-racism Digital Library as individual items.
Lift Every Voice and Sing: Introductory Reflections
Concerns about racism at the dawn of the twentieth century in the United States have continued to afflict our body politic deep into the twenty-first. Black Emancipation, and its effects in the last century are mirrored by indomitable Black progress, ever-broadening circles of change, and dehumanizing division pervasive in this century.
One of the greatest expressions of the gift and meaning of Blackness comes from the turn of the twentieth century, the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Written by brothers James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamund Johnson, this veritable praise song pays homage to a people moving through the maelstrom of the United States untrammeled, undaunted, and undimmed.
A soaring crescendo of hope, Lift Every Voice, gives luminous recognition to the belief of African descended peoples in the United States of America that is not yet, has never been, but one day will be. Composed with faith in the divine and human resolve, the song gives lyric declaration to the depths of Black and human struggle birthing dynamic pathways to freedom. In our own day and time, through forms of protest, policy, prayer and praise, may we to a person and in our congregations and communities be the anti-racist agents of change God seeks. In church and society, love and justice are waiting for our response. The promise of our common humanity – whosoever - longs for no less.
In this reader you will find strength and sustenance for the difficult journey to our familial kinship, the commonwealth of God, beloved community. I am honored to be associated with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the contributors to this requested resource. Together, may we dare to bear faithful witness, that we are one. Come, let us “lift every voice and sing!”
In the Presence,
Alton B. Pollard, III
Alton B. Pollard, III is President and Professor of Religion and Culture, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
On 5th March, 2020, the first Anti-racism display was launched in E.M. White Library. It was planned to be a permanent display, with rotating items, and highlight Anti-racism resources from our physical print collections, faculty scholarship, Black Church Studies, and the Anti-racism Digital Library and Thesaurus.
On 16th March, our residential school, in response to the global pandemic, decided to move to online instruction for the rest of the semester. We prayed, worshiped, worked, learned from home and closed Spring semester with our first-ever virtual Commencement ceremony on 16th May. But even during this period of social distancing, we continued to be aware of the inequities and disparities that COVID19 began to reveal starkly. Then, peaceful protests erupted around the country, triggered by the brutal death of George Floyd. Many members in our community, were already engaged in the struggle for justice. Now, they responded to the needs of the moment.
Lift Every Voice brings together art and photos, stories, prayers, reflections, and protest statements, created and produced by employees and students of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The majority of the contributions began their creative life, organically, during the last week of May, Pentecost Sunday, and June 2020. I am pleased to be able to bring them all together to showcase some of the God-honoring ways for followers of Jesus Christ to engage in anti-racism.
Marcus Hong’s original watercolor reminds of God’s great love for people who are suffering grave injustices as do the photos taken by Alison Stabler of the Justice for Breona Taylor Louisville protests. This is art-in-action. Stachelle Bussey, boldly, witnesses-in-action, by embodying Jesus, church, and ministering, to the protestors. Heather is faith-in-action as she breaks her silence. Debra Mumford’s story of how she came out and embraced liberation is truth-in-action. Despite the pain, there is hope for joy in the Christian imagination of John Randolph. He documents his protest experiences and meditates on the meaning of Jacob’s wrestling encounter with the Divine, for our modern struggle. Tyler Mayfield uses a white Jacob to reflect on the same Divine encounter. To build equity, Adrian Baker suggests shrink the oceans as an authentic approach. Alton Pollard III, Kilen Gray, Sandra Moon, Stephen Cook, Justin Reed, Shannon Craigo-Snell, and I reveal yet other ways to be active anti-racists. Ours is anti-racism theology-in-action that is grounded in the imago Dei, that all human beings are made in God’s image. This is a liberative theology that gives life. No one is oppressed and everyone is empowered to become the people God created us to be. May Lift Every Voice bless you.Anita Coleman is Associate Professor and Director of Library Services, Louisville Seminary.
Table of Contents:
Lift Every Voice and Sing: Introductory Reflections.
From the Editor
When there is a knee on our necks, anger is an act of righteous resistance. Alton B. Pollard III.
A Pentecost prayer: Beyond acknowledging privilege, allyship, and solidarity to ending systems where “I can’t breathe” never happens again. Anita Coleman.
The long fight for justice: A freedom narrative from the Louisville Protests. John Randolph.
Reflections on Genesis 1:1-2:4a. Steve Cook.
Kentucky is better than recent events suggest. Kilen K. Gray.
White silence is violence. My silence is broken. Heather Thum-Gerber.
Now is not a time for silence. Sandra Moon.
Coming out stories. Debra J. Mumford.
Organize the Church. Stachelle Bussey.
Race in the Prophets and Writings. Justin Reed.
White Jacob: an imaginative, biblical approach. Tyler Mayfield.
A Statement of Support of Black Lives Matter by library directors and leaders in Seminary, Religion, Divinity/Theology Libraries
Statement from leaders of Greater Louisville/Kentuckiana higher education institutions.
LETTER OF INVITATION TO JOIN THE PROTEST. Alton B. Pollard, III.
AN INTERFAITH CALL: FAITH LEADERS DEMAND JUSTICE FOR BREONNA TAYLOR.
WHOSOEVER: A DIVINE INVITATION. Alton B. Pollard, III.
Real change takes community organizing: Mobilizing for action.
The liturgy of a black lives matter protest. Shannon Craigo-Snell.
Shrink the Ocean. Adrian M. Baker
The Tapestry: My anti-racism story. Anita Coleman.
Acknowledgments and Rights.