Once again, we are faced with the start of the NFL season and the controversy of kneeing for the nation anthem has once again being magnified. To all of you that have responded with your support or disdain for the NFL athletes protest of the national anthem, respectfully they have the right to protest in this manner. Before this blog gets under you skin, I am fully aware of their intent not to disrespect our flag, the military and those who have served our country.
I am a veteran of the protests during the civil rights movement, I was privileged to be part of a small group that desegregated the schools in GA in 1964. I witnessed Dr King during marches as a youth and heard him speak in public. I participated in the marches and protects and even through my college years was beaten by police and arrested for peaceful protests thought I was merely carrying a sign.
For the past years the anthem protest has had a primary goal of bringing awareness of the stain on our nation of social injustice. Unfortunately, the prevailing thought in our culture is that this is a black thing, and these men are spoiled millionaires. Their cry for help has cost them their careers, in many instances, in the prime of their life.
My response is there must be another means of addressing the plight of social and racial injustice in America. Conversely, there has been little dialogue or action to address the existing injustices in our criminal justice system which could take years. As a pastor and social activist, I have engaged leaders on both aspects of the political spectrum. Culture and racial climate cannot be resolve by merely changing laws; it has to come from the heart. America, we need a heart change and a blood transfusion with the Blood of Christ.
Amid the turmoil of the 1960s civil rights struggle there was a strong undercurrent of prayer. That’s right, prayer changes things. We prayed into the night in the churches and meeting places before after days of marching, boycotts and other social action.
There is a part of America that may never understand this struggle and will literally hate and despise these players; many who are out of jobs and losing millions of dollars each year they are not signed. The racial divide is unfortunately getting wider given we too often will merely cut each other off and fail to hear. This reminds me of a line in an old movie, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
As one who has traveled the world, I am proud to call America my home and will defend her any day of the week. We have our faults and issues that are embroidered deep in a dark past that we cannot undo. Racism – racial intensively may not be our fault but it is and remains our problem.
My question during this era of protest is how do we measure achievement of the ultimate goal in this endeavor and level of protest. How does success look, and when will the kneeing stop? How do we ascertain when the goal has finally been achieved and equal justice for all is truly guaranteed? Until we can answer this question the protests will continue even amid the existing results of support, racial misunderstanding and even anger.
At the end of the day, who will make the clarion call (to say) rise up from a knee! History proves that to affect social change it requires intervention within our culture through a fruitful dialogue that is both sincere and focused on specific goals and objectives for social justice.
There is hope in Christ to heal our nation, so we all can take a knee or two in prayer and worship to Christ our Lord.
This is the Voice of the Overseer