It’s February and I’m hoping to still be on the planet when Black Americans’ history is equally recognized, valued and celebrated – eliminating the need for Black History Month altogether. It may be a pipe dream, but an honorable dream nonetheless.
Until then, these are times when I actually like social media – as I’ve learned so much this month about people of whom I’d never heard; courageous, brilliant, praiseworthy people who have been purposely erased from our schools’ history books.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting a couple, still living, who are equally courageous, brilliant and praiseworthy. My friend Joni Bovill stalked them until they were able to connect – then planned for a whole year to host them. Yesterday, she and her husband Kirk, brought a group of us together for a BLACK HISTORY MONTH celebration starring this couple! We socialized, chowed down and were able to sit “around the campfire” and listen to their stories, ask questions, and take pictures.
By way of Mississippi, this couple faced and fought the generational curse of racism. They heard it, saw it, were related to some of it and he was even the Pastor of many who fought for racist ideals while somehow twisting God’s Word – justifying their hate towards Black People.
Their names are Ed and Tina McRae. And they are white. These remarkable people had not even met or developed a relationship with a Black Person until their mid to late twenties (aside from her Nanny)! Yet in the deep South, where racism was often cousin to murder and the word Nigger came as easily as breathing, this couple fought against racism in the best way they knew how. Enduring threats along with much of their congregation walking out, oh, and the backlash from the Methodist church, this couple couldn’t stand idly by while their fellow humans, their fellow Americans, their Black brothers and sisters were being tortured on all levels. Part of their point of view? – that what whites were doing wasn’t hurting and affecting Black People alone, it was hurting all of us. But most of their white peers couldn’t see it. Ed and Tina could.
There is so much more to their story but know that Ed is featured in a newly released book, “Born of Conviction”. The title is taken from a document that he and 27 of his fellow, white ministers had signed. It was a document that stated their opposition to the Governor’s closing of their public schools. Why the closing? The Governor (and most of the populace) was trying to avoid integration. Well, that document was not only published in the newspapers, but Ed’s “off the record” conversation with a reporter was also published. He had answered the reporter’s question as to what was really going on in Mississippi regarding politics, integration and racism. Then all hell broke loose.
The 28 Ministers were persecuted in a way many have not known and some won’t ever. But Ed and Tina stood their ground. God protected them and their children and they’re alive and well (60 years married) to share their stories of adventure and triumph. Three of their many stories: that time they came home to a KKK cross burning on their lawn; or when a woman, a Jewish woman they didn’t even know, offered to watch and protect their children when their lives were in danger – just when they needed it; And when their “ministry” conference Leadership segregated the swimming hole, so Ed and other white ministers resisted by not swimming at all. It may seem a small action to some, but you could (and in some places still) get killed taking a stance like that!
As I sat there listening, it took all my strength not to bawl my face right off. I was amazed at Ed’s respect for what his black community was going through – he said something like those Black People [and what they endured] were the bravest/strongest people…! I marveled at all Ed & Tina have seen thus far, I celebrated their bravery, and I was deeply convicted (and inspired) because I knew I could do more to fight and resist injustices against others. I know I have the voice, the articulation, the creativity. I am utilizing it, but after listening to them, I know that I am not fully. Not with complete fearlessness. Not at the risk of my life! Not with a child-like spirit. Not with wise abandon. I decided to DO RIGHT like there’s literally, no tomorrow.
There are many prejudices in this world. I’ve received the back-hand-slap of many – and I’d like to open my mouth and shout solutions. But I’m not called to all help rectify all injustices, I’m only called to a few. Racism is one of them because racism is a spirit of division and division is deadly.
I purpose to do my bit-part. I encourage you to do the same. Speak up. Whether as long as a book, as easy as a post, or as short as a #hashtag – defend and protect others. Speak UP! Let’s be the Ed & Tina others will write about.
“Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the justice of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8
“Learn to do good, seek justice, relieve the oppressed…” Isaiah 1:17 and Psalm 82:3
“…do not oppress or exploit the widow or the fatherless, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise or even imagine evil in your hearts against one another.” Zechariah 7:10
Thanks for reading.
Originally posted February 13th, 2017
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