An Open Letter to Civil Rights Leaders,
Joseph Lowery, Jesse Jackson
By Bruce W. Robida
To Reverend Joseph Lowery, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton,
Each of you shares the title, reverend and according to online sources, you were ordained as Christian ministers. As a white, evangelical Christian male in my mid 50’s, I am fully aware of your struggles in the Civil Rights Movement. Had I been old enough, I would have marched right along with you when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading the charge. Even as a young man, I sympathized with your plight and was deeply troubled by Dr. King’s assassination. I was taught then and I believe today, that all men are equal in the sight of God. As a father of five, I have taught my children that prejudice is evil and to love our neighbors no matter who they are or where they come from. I’m proud to say that like me, they don’t see people as black or white but as fellow humans, worthy of love and respect. This is part of the Christian heritage that I am passing on to them and I am sure they will pass it on to their children, just as countless other Americans have done and are doing even today.
As I got older, I listened to and read some of Dr. King’s speeches. I sincerely admired the man as one that I could proudly get behind. He had a way of garnering support from all walks of life. I saw many white people marching with him in some of the old videos and I could tell that white Americans at the time were coming around. Since then, those same white individuals have raised families; generations who believe as we do that racism is evil. Dr. King’s efforts turned the tide in America.
I wouldn’t dare say that racism doesn’t exist. I know there are individuals in the world who still cling to ignorance and prejudice and bigotry are prevalent in their miserable lives. I know they exist because I see them, but let me tell you that for most of these wretched souls, they hide their bigotry well because they know they have little support. Many of them are passive aggressive with their racism and don’t exhibit it openly because they know their numbers are relatively small. Racism today has diminished considerably since the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s.
Dr. Martin Luther King saw something that you really have not seen since his death. Dr. King had white supporters who were willing to march and rally with him. Where are your white supporters? Don’t you wonder where they are? Does it matter to you that there are few if any? Is it possible that you deem white Americans as racists because of their lack of support in the 21st century? It is true that I and most white Americans cannot support your efforts. Your leadership has only fanned the flames of racism, not of white Americans, but sadly, black Americans and they are continually bombarded with the idea that they are victims of white privilege. Is your assessment of white America an honest one?
The progress that has been made in this country on behalf of black Americans is indeed impressive. There are countless examples of the achievements of black Americans because of the opportunities that exist for those who are willing to take advantage of them. This is due to the tide that began to turn with the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s. If you are honest, you will notice that it is not the so-called victims who are succeeding, but the success stories come from those who refused to be victims. Prosperous black Americans work hard to achieve their goals.
As Christian ministers, you have ignored your calling and are hurting those you purport to defend. You claim to be civil rights leaders, but in reality, you fight for the rights of black people only. You teach black people that they are being oppressed by white people without considering that the majority of white people are sympathetic and not racists. You cry racism where there is none and you defend thugs just because they are black. The reason you have no white supporters is that you have lost all credibility with white Americans.
It astounds me that you who call yourself, reverend; you who call yourself, Christian, are teaching your own people to be racists. Do you understand that God created man in His image? Do you understand that in God’s mind, there is no distinction between black and white? Do you know that true believers are literally brothers and sisters with Christ regardless of the color of their skin? Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. did understand these facts and worked toward equality for all people, not just black Americans. Thus he received support from white Americans in great numbers.
If you are interested in ending racism in America, you’ll have to start with yourself. Get back to the pulpit and preach Christ crucified, love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Teach black Americans how to live as Christ taught. You hate to see so many black people in prisons? Are they committing crimes? Why are they producing so many children out of wedlock? Why are so many children living in homes without their fathers? What kind of future do these children have without positive role models? As preachers, you have a responsibility to preach the truth, not as you see it but as the Scriptures say it.
I will leave you with one Scripture.
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
If you are gong to call yourself, reverend, at least behave like one. Your mandate is stated above. If you have legitimate civil rights concerns, of course you should address them. But you have corrupted Dr. King’s dream. You have made a living by keeping racism alive. Teach your people to love and respect all people just as I have done with my own family and racism will become a scourge of the past.
Bruce W. Robida
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