Guest Editorial from 
Cecil G. Wood, PhD
Ruling Elder, First Presbyterian-Kirkwood
Synod Commissioner

“Over the past several weeks, I have listened to and watched in awe and horror the retelling of the events of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. After much thought and consideration and hearing the calls for reparations of various types, I have come to the following conclusion which I am recommending for your thoughtful consideration:

I feel that the first step in any process of reparations must of necessity be the admission and acknowledgment by the “party(ies) responsible for the wrong that has given rise to the need for reparations. That recognition, admission, and acknowledgment must be public and carried out in a way that is clear, unmistakable, and permanently recorded as historical fact. In the United States, the best way to accomplish that is to make it a part of our history. And what better way to do so than to make the events a clearly defined and recognizable part of our nation’s history, incorporate it into our school textbooks and have it be a part of the curriculum, starting at the elementary level and continuing through high school, undergraduate and graduate levels.

I am convinced that there are enough interested religious leaders, historians, scholars, journalists, program and curriculum developers, and school administrators at all levels to successfully carry out such a project if we are indeed serious about the issue of reparations. And in fact, the word itself suggests “repair” and that is where we should begin.

There is no shortage of people in the Caucasian population who have joined in the fight for African Americans’ rights and have contributed their time, talent, and resources to the struggle for equality. Some have given their lives —made the ultimate sacrifice. More recently, young people from this sector of the population have been very active in their support of our cause. More often than desirable, however, we have been met with the tepid response when the subject of lack of justice and equality is broached, that would-be participants are “not aware”  of the issues related to the particular topic being discussed. . . they “did not know”.

The approach that has been outlined is an effort to address that problem. It lays the groundwork for resolving that specific issue. Moreover, It is a clarion call to arms designed to take action to correct that lack of understanding, so that everyone is approaching the problem of systemic inequality from a common basis.  When such awareness is instilled through making it an integral part of our nation’s history there will be no excuse for “not knowing”.

Once we have accomplished this critical first step of obtaining admission of the underlying issues, the acknowledgment that the events occurred, and a  public recording of them as described, the question of material, financial, and physical reparations can then be successfully addressed and pursued. Without that first step, there will always be questions, discussions, discussions, and further discussions,  with the result that nothing is done and no concrete action(s) taken.

My prayer is that God will give us, individually and collectively, the courage to take this first bold step to resolve this issue that has for so long plagued our nation.”

Cecil G. Wood, PhD
Ruling Elder, First Presbyterian-Kirkwood
Synod Commissioner


  • Posted June 16, 2021 1:55 pm
    Barbara G. Willock

    Thank you, Cecil. My grand plan upon retirement was to write down family stories for my grandchildren and my brother’s grandchildren. It’s taken almost 10 years to build up a head of steam, but I am currently working on a book about our 17th century ancestors who settled in Massachusetts as part of the Great Puritan Migration. I’m trying to make it as much an American history as a history of our family, since we are descended from at least nine families who arrived here in that decade. Today’s research has involved King Philip’s War [look it up!]. As an American history major, I am appalled at what I was not taught, so my book includes a description of the Doctrine of Discovery and, as honest as I can make it, appraisal of our ancestors’ interaction with the people who had lived in New England for 9000 years before they arrived.
    Riverside Church is doing an excellent Webinar on Reparations and Restorative Justice [see presbytery newsletter from two weeks ago] and will have another series in the fall on action. Sunday is the third and last of this series, but they are available to view through Riverside.
    Thanks for reminding us again of the work we need to do!

  • Posted June 20, 2021 12:12 pm
    Diane McCullough

    Dear Dr. Wood, Thank you for your article and commitment to the cause of a complete and honest American history to be taught in our schools. This has been a passion of mine my whole career as a teacher. As church leaders, we need to prepare ourselves and our children for the wave of pushback that is forming about how and what we teach in our schools. There is so much to learn and there is so much information available now for us to start putting together substantive materials for our schools. My focus is on music, but every field has an African American component in its history. We need to activate the paradigm that “if it happened, Black Americans were involved – just search out the facts.”
    It is wonderful to read of Rev. Willock’s legacy to her descendants!!
    The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy also has adopted “An Apology to our African American Sisters and Brothers for the Sin of Slavery and Its Legacy” which is available for all to read and meditate on. It can be found on the Presbytery website in the Dismantling Racism and White Privilege (DRAWP) section.
    We have much work to do. Please consider joining the DRAWP team.
    Again, thank you.
    Diane McCullough, Ruling Elder, Webster Groves Presbyterian Churchh

Add Your Comment