Last year, after George Floyd was murdered, my friend Rev. Gavin Walton at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church suggested that we organize an interfaith vigil in Oakland. In July, hundreds of people representing over 30 different faith groups and organizations lined Fifth Ave. from one end of the business district to the other to remember the dead, to call for justice, and to affirm that Black Lives Matter.
Since then, Gavin and I have continued to meet monthly with many of the leaders of that vigil (and some new folks, too). Gradually, a vision for this (mostly white) group is coming into view as a regular space for “gentle accountability” to stick with the work of antiracism for the long haul.
We provide a safe, confidential space to process organizational leadership, a place to get new ideas and try out new ideas, opportunities for partnership, an interfaith experience, perspectives from different neighborhoods, and connections to public actions and events. PublicSource published an interview with Gavin and I about the group's work if you want to learn more.
One thing we are prioritizing is hearing and learning from BIPOC leaders and coming alongside actions that they are organizing to lend our support. Most recently, we heard from Rev. Dale Snyder of Bethel AME in the Hill District, who is seeking reparations from the city because in the 1950's it seized and destroyed the church's property in order to make way for the Civic Arena.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have promised to return the original land to them and help develop it into a multi-use building. Last week, we were privileged to celebrate with Bethel AME as they rededicated the original church land. You can watch the service here:
There is a lot to celebrate but the work is far from over! Contact me if you want to learn how to get involved.