taking the words of Jesus seriously


Before I could finish weeping about Baton Rouge where Alton Sterling was killed,   another shooting happened less than a day later in Minnesota where Philando Castile was killed. This turned my tears into righteous indignation.


Two lives, two souls of black men dead.


Two father’s, two sons, two brothers just trying to make it were killed by those who are supposed to protect and serve.


One killed while selling CDs; one while he was trying to comply with the law.


Five shots in Baton rouge; four shots in Minnesota.


Each shot heard around the world inflicting more wounds in the already scarred souls of Black folks.


Let me own the frustration I have and many in the hood have. Let me own the anger of my sons for whom I cannot find sane words to explain this insanity.  Let me be like the Psalmist. How Long? How Long America?  If this were anywhere else we would be calling it police terror. If these cases were Black cops killing white men the nation from its highest level would be moving to stop it. But when it’s Black death the narrative is “no way” could this be murder by police. These victims had to have done something to justify being shot dead. Even if the video shows nothing there has to be something … it can’t be just outright police terrorism and murder.


I don’t know what to do right now, but I do know that refusing to fight for justice is what we cannot do. Not now, not ever.


Yes, I believe justice and righteousness will ultimately prevail, but Lord help my unbelief as well.


Killing of Black bodies by those behind badges is a form of terrorism. 


Let’s name it. Let’s tell the truth. And it has a long, ungodly history.


Let’s prosecute these police officers fair but hard because the shooting of innocent Black men and women is done in our names. Until there are consequences this will only continue.


Let us demand federal protection and that every person running for office address Badges, Bullets and Black Death.


Let us refuse violence and hatred among ourselves as we march and demand change, justice, and accountability. We must act now, not in some distant future.


Black people have never wanted lynch mobs or prosecution before trials. But America, we must have the trials. We must. Internal police led investigations in house are not enough.  And when the facts say murder, no one should be able to hide from the consequences,  especially behind a badge.


Let us refuse to allow Alton and Philando’s memory to die or for their lives to be dismissed, distorted, or denounced. Blood is crying from the ground and let it trouble the very soul of America until it is a clear reality. No one has a right to kill a child and creation of God. No one!


Finally, justice has to have a present manifestation. God said let justice roll down like waters and righteousness; like a mighty stream right here, not over yonder. So even when we don’t know all there is to do, let us at least remember when we want to get tired and stop that we must keep fighting. Remember how black men were being lynched, one a day, and freedom fighters didn’t quit. They fought back and challenged the systems.


It our time to stand strong. 


When Rosa Parks saw the killers of Emmett Till acquitted, she got stronger and took on Jim Crow. They shot at her house. They bombed her house and others, but she stood and fought.


It’s our time to stand in truth and fight for justice.


Join Rev. Barber at a Moral Revival near you this summer. Check schedule here.


About The Author


The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church and President of Repairers of the Breach. He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors. A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. Rev. Barber is author of the best-selling The Third Reconstruction: How A Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear.

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