A.C.T. to End Racism

A.C.T. to End Racism

A.C.T. to End Racism – April 4, 2018

The ELCA, with other partner churches in the National Council of Churches of Christ gathered in Washington, D.C., to mark 50 years since the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Vice President Elaine Whitney attended these events and represented the Sierra Pacific Synod.

The challenge of A.C.T. to End Racism is to:

  • AWAKEN ourselves to the truth that racism is ever-present, deeply rooted in American culture, and profoundly damaging to our communities.
  • CONFRONT racism, speak truth to ourselves, our communities and institutions, and stand against injustice.
  • TRANSFORM the hearts, minds, and behaviors of people and structures that shape society.

The early morning march to the National Mall gathered ELCA participants from across the country.




(Photo credit: ELCA)

Sometimes, a picture or a gesture says more than a page full of words. The Release Dance Company brought the reality of feeling hunted and incarceration to the stage in a way that makes it hard to forget.

Danny Glover, a proud San Franciscan, spoke with great passion about the need to continue Dr. King’s work for curbing unbridled greed and making a way to honor the humanity of all people. It was good to see someone from our region give a deeply Spirited take on the life and work of Dr. King.

Ben & Jerry, of ice cream fame, put a real human face on white privilege. They experienced success through what they solely thought was hard work and a good idea. One told the story of their rise to fortune as it happened; the other told their story as if they had been born African-American. Their parents were able to get low-interest home loans in the 1950s that were not available to African-Americans and their parents turned their equity into college tuition for them. Both had minor brushes with a youthful arrest, but they were basically admonished, and it did not hurt their chances when they applied for a Small Business Administration loan as young men. So, they thrived, but young African-American men did not get the same forgiveness and support. It was deep, and they have come to understand what it means to have an unfair privilege.

The Reverend Doctor Raphael Warnock is the current senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Dr. King served). He talked about the ways that racism has mutated and about mass incarceration. His congregation organized and sponsored an expungement day where 1,000 people were able to have their records cleared in a day, with the help of local law officials. This made it possible for people to qualify for licenses, housing, employment, and to get a fresh start. Dr. King would be proud to see his congregation continue his work to free oppressed people.

Dr. Frederick Haynes, III, Senior Pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas, TX, was an amazing speaker and a teller of truth. He asked us not to see Dr. King through limited snippets of his work but to understand Dr. King’s radical call for love and justice.

April Baskin spoke up for the end of our divisions in fighting oppression of all people. She is the Vice President of Audacious Hospitality for the Union for Reform Judaism.

Bishop Marvin Sapp enlivened the crowd after we had waited in the wind and rain. He got us to share the peace with strangers who were all around us. It was good!

What an incredible day in Washington, D.C.! We lived, just a little, into the dream of Dr. King where people of different faiths could stand up for what is important, truth and justice. The weather was blustery, and the day was long, but our Church stood with other people of faith to honor the life and legacy of a great spiritual leader, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.