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Column: From slavery to mass incarceration?

Gracie Bonds Staples, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Religious News

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? -- Micah 6:8 KJV

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock has had a busy couple of weeks.

After co-hosting and delivering the opening sermon at a conference on ending mass incarceration in the United States, he was off to the American Baptist Churches USA Biennial Mission Summit in Virginia Beach, Va., where he led two workshops on the same topic.

And less than 24 hours later, he was back at Ebenezer to preach his weekend services and for the 45th annual scholarship concert honoring the memory of the late Alberta Christine Williams King, affectionately known as "Mama King," who was assassinated there 45 years ago.

On this Monday morning, he was tired and hungry, and so you might wonder why as a father of two young children and a church pastor, he'd take on the role of social activist as well.

His answer: He has no other choice.

 

Black churches were born out of political and social resistance, with enslaved African Americans organizing around a theology that God would deliver them from their oppressors. Slavery may have ended, but racism has simply reinvented itself.

Enslaved, beaten and lynched black bodies are now handcuffed, shot while driving and probated black bodies but never emancipated black bodies, according to Warnock.

It was why, in the midst of an already busy schedule, he was willing to indulge my questions about present-day systemic racism and why it is the responsibility of the church to fight against it.

The question had been weighing on me for a very long time, and led me to seek answers and, perhaps solutions, from Warnock and other church leaders.

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