Growing up, I remember watching black and white scenes of the Montgomery bus boycotts, people sitting at diner counters while others pour drinks over their heads, and protestors being hosed down in the streets. I learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that he was a courageous freedom fighter, entering brutal conflict with the principle of nonviolence. He was a brilliant leader, and he held our systems accountable for the injustices they perpetuated against some of our most vulnerable citizens. However, Martin Luther King Jr. was not the end of black history in America. And, we are doing Dr. King, and our nation’s rich history of freedom fighters, a disservice if we end the discussion with him.
— emily o'connor, intern
We are all made in God’s image regardless of our differences.

Those that spread hate in the name of God have a fatal misunderstanding of God. Jesus loved the people that were cast out and seemed unlovable. The imperfect. The broken. The sinners. Those that didn’t fit into cultural norms. People that were different from him. He loved them all. It is so arrogant of us to think we are a better judge of people than Christ. Who are we to judge who deserves love and compassion.

Spreading hate and fear is only a sad attempt to keep all the light and glory for ourselves.
— erica huckstep, grace attender

Are we any better off?

On my drive down to Florida, I made a detour to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Bloody Sunday took place. I found myself involved in a surprising conversation with a total stranger. As we stood shoulder to shoulder, He asked "Do you think we are any better off than we were then?" The open, honest discussion that ensued between two strangers would open my eyes and ears to truths I’d been previously able to ignore.

As we shared our stories, we began to see and hear each other. I was unsettled as I pondered both history and the realities of our day. Though I was only an infant when Bloody Sunday took place. I began to realize that this story is part of my story. This is OUR story.

As we finished our conversation, we noticed a woman watching us. She couldn't shake the feeling that she was supposed to stop and talk to us. As the five of us formed a circle, we reached for each other’s hands and prayed. I wish I could remember the words we each offered. However, I’ll never forget the beauty of standing together offering our unique perspective and prayers for a better tomorrow.

In some small way, I believe our surprising encounter allowed us to listen and learn from each other. It makes me wonder what could happen if more of us could find a way to listen to each other.