Matthew 25 will be introduced at the Saturday Presbytery Gathering. The three pillars of the program are vital congregations, poverty, and anti-racism. The following reflection from Julie Nicolai is about her experience on the recent Dismantling Racism and White Privilege bus trip to the Montgomery Alabama.
Rev. Craig M. Howard
A Journey Never to be Forgotten
I recently had the pleasure of going on the bus tour to Montgomery, Alabama to visit civil rights sites sponsored by the Presbytery’s Team on Dismantling Racism and Privilege. The trip included attendees from varied backgrounds and a number of churches within the Presbytery. We visited two museums and attended Sunday morning worship service at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.
The service at Dexter Avenue was amazing, with Grammy award caliber singers, dancing, shouting and clapping, plus a sermon that made me want to get up and take action. I must say we blew the roof off the place.
We visited The Legacy Museum: From Slavery to Incarceration on Saturday. It was a sobering experience. It took us on a journey from the horrors of slavery, through the terrorism of the Jim Crow era, and on to the contemporary injustices of our criminal justice system. Along the way, we were brought to tears by powerful period images, quotes and interactive displays. I will not soon forget the absolute and inescapable brutality of systematic rape forced upon female slaves (and some male slaves) by the white plantation system. I will forever remember the photograph showing a hanged man’s feet above a crowd of leering men, some of them laughing.
Our visit to The National Memorial for Peace and Justice was powerful, eerie, angering and sad, yet left us with hope for redemption and salvation. Hundreds of large, metal rectangular blocks hang from the ceiling of the memorial. Each one has the name of a county and the names of the people that were lynched there. Some were lynched for simply looking at a white person the wrong way, or just being in the vicinity when a barn happened to burn down. The most amazing thing about it is that exact replicas of each block are laid on the ground outside the Memorial, with each county being challenged to come and claim their respective block, thus assuming accountability for its actions, and initiating the healing process. So far, 40 counties are in the process of claiming blocks.
There are 4,000 documented lynching’s in the United States. They are not confined to the South. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more that are undocumented. There were 60 documented lynching’s in Missouri and one in St. Louis County. Here are the names of the victims of lynching’s that occurred within the Presbytery of Giddings – Lovejoy’s boundaries:
- John Buckner, 1894, St. Louis County
- Erastus Brown, 1897, Franklin County
- Ray Hammonds, 1921, Pike County
- Henry Caldwell, 1882, Iron County
- William McDonald, 1883, Pike County
- Curtis Young, 1898, Pike County
- Sam Young, 1898, Pike County
- Love Redd, 1915, Pike County
- William Henderson, 1895, Cape Girardeau County
Julie Nikolai, History Team of the Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy