by Frank Massey
We traveled deep into the south, into the heart of Dixie. Black and white, we traveled together, an act that would have been dangerous, if not impossible 50 years ago. The deeper I traveled into the week and into the south, the deeper I traveled down into my own memories. The visceral responses at the “lunch counter” and the “enslavement” experiences exposed memories long forgotten, buried deep in the recesses of my mind, psyche, and indeed in every fiber of my being.
I stand convicted - convicted of my silence. Wednesday afternoon, after an introduction and presentation in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham where four girls were killed by a bomb planted at the church, we gathered in front of a memorial to those four souls. As we stood in a circle before that memorial and sang “Were you there?” I was convicted. When asked to share one word at the conclusion of the hymn, I spoke out of the silence, “Yes.” Yes, I was there when they crucified our Lord. Yes, I’m there each time I stay silent when there is an injustice. Yes, I’m there each time I don’t stand with another person who is being discriminated against or persecuted unjustly. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these powerful words, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth103571.html)
I can no longer remain silent. I confess my sin of silence, ask forgiveness, and will work to transform to the person I am created to be. I will speak up for justice.
The Awakening Series seeks to engage the intersections of culture and faith, particularly around areas of injustice and moral responsibility. Through faith formation opportunities that address issues of our daily lives, we are working to create shalom (wholeness, equity, justice, and peace) for all.