I was leafing just now through a free copy of USA Today, and this headline in particular caught my eye: “Clergy, activist arrested in ‘Ferguson October’ march.”
“Moral Monday,” as the activists called it, began at Wellspring Church in Ferguson. The demonstrators walked two blocks to the police station in heavy rain as leaders with bullhorns read the names of people killed by police nationwide….
Clergy members then faced the police officers and asked them to confess their sins and repent for the deaths of black youths.
“We are saying that these officers are members of our society and that they are part of a racist and sinful system,” [Rev. Osagyefo] Sekou said. “We are offering them the opportunity to repent and to be reconciled into our community.”
Sekou and Cornell West were subsequently arrested for crossing a police line.
An open-ended question (not a rhetorical one, though obviously my posing the question implies that I see the possibility for a certain answer): The non-violent black civil rights movement of the 1950s and early 1960s prominently featured participation from ministers, rabbis, nuns. Does Sekou’s call to repentance carry today the same level of moral/rhetorical force that, I presume, the nuns at Selma carried? If not, why not?
I just found this article in The Guardian which speaks to the question I posed: Ferguson activists reject religious leaders’ platitudes.