Most white Christians, and many middle class racial minority communities, have cut themselves off from any intimate life together with poor black communities that struggle every day with a multiplicity of oppressive obstacles. But a movement is happening all around us.
Fifty-two years ago, eight white clergy penned their version of “all lives matter.” These white men of God questioned the efficacy of the civil rights movement in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. They wrote that "honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts.”
I recently had the honor of sitting down with a fourth-generation Mississippian who knows a thing or two about racial injustice because he’s spent his life fighting it: Duncan M. Gray Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi from 1974 to 1993.
“Tell me what a feminist looks like,” the woman at the microphone chanted. Obediently and enthusiastically, we responded, “This is what a feminist looks like.” It was a beautiful, if chilly, April afternoon, and several hundred students, faculty members, and administrators had gathered in front of the University of Mary Washington’s administration building to mourn the murder of Grace Rebecca Mann and celebrate her life.
In 1960, when Vincent Harding moved to Atlanta, he began trying to weld together the ongoing nonviolent activism being lived out by some in the Black Church with the peace witness of the Mennonite Church. This effort became less than a decade long experiment, because Harding would eventually break formal ties with the Mennonite Church. Though his time and effort keeping a foot simultaneously in both the Black community and Mennonite community was fixed should not suggest to us that he no longer had an important role to play in for Mennonite lived faith or that he did not continue to influence the Mennonite Church deeply. In fact, his ongoing legacy for the Mennonite Church lives on today.
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union proposed to enlarge the American promise of prosperity by introducing a new tax structure for the very wealthy, tax credits for families outside of the wealthy stratum, increased access to retirement plans for more American workers, and a plan to subsidize community college tuition. While there will be resistance to the president’s proposals, the impulse behind them is an appeal to an idealized form of decency that Lyndon B. Johnson believed would make his idea of a Great Society an American reality.
Fifty years ago this month, Johnson introduced his vision to Congress.
This is a book for those that are seeking to embody the radical witness of Jesus for their own time, recalibrating their own lives in light of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ example of solidarity with the oppressed. If you, or anyone you know, is looking to be inspired by both the past and present witness of Jesus in the world, and if you would appreciate it communicated through creative and beautiful artwork testifying to God’s Church making visible the Kingdom of God, then Radical Jesus is for you!