Growing in Love of God and Neighbor

Black History Month February 2023

The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, United States Senator for Georgia

The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock is the eleventh of twelve children born to Verlene and Jonathan Warnock in 1969. Both parents were Pentecostal ministers and Reverend Warnock reports that he preached his first sermon at eleven years old. Reverend Warnock grew up in public housing and saw his parents as models of determination and hard work. Following in the path of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Reverend Warnock attended Morehouse College and graduate Cum Laude in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He went on to attend Union Theological Seminary and obtained a masters in divinity and philosophy and doctorate in philosophy.

Reverend Warnock began his ministry at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama where he serves as a summer intern. He relates that it was at this time his faith moved from quiet prayer to social activism. In the 1990’s he serves as youth pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. In the 2000’s he went on to serves as the senior pastor at the Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland. At Douglass Community he urged his congregation to fight the scourge of drug addiction and to address the HIV crisis. In 2005, Reverent Warnock became the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and was the youngest pastor to serve in that role in the home church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At Ebenezer he worked to promote voting rights, the rights of death row prisoners and addressed other social injustices. During one service, he donned a Morehouse University hoodie in the pulpit to speak about the fatal shooting if Black teenager, Trayvon Martin. He also led non-violent protests for Medicaid expansion and against cuts in healthcare spending while also supporting programs to promote and protect voting rights, voter registration and voter turnout.

On January 20, 2020, the Rev. Dr. Warnock announced his candidacy for the US Senate and won in a runoff election. In 2022, the now Senator Warnock again faced a second runoff election and won a six-year term as the first African American to be elected to represent Georgia in the United States Senate. Remaining proud of his roots, he remarked after his election, “I’m a U.S. senator, but I’m still that kid who grew up in public housing in Savannah, Georgia.” Senator Warnock in speaking of his role as a U.S. senator stated, “Politics is a tool to effect the change I want to see in the world.” He remains committed to work for the people. As he stated in his acceptance speech… “I am Georgia. I am an example and iteration of its history, of its pain, and its promise, of the brutality and the possibility. But because this is America, because we always have a path to make our country greater against unspeakable odds, here we stand together…” He also proclaimed in that speech, “And to God be the glory for the great things that God has done. And after a hard-fought campaign or should I say campaigns, it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy; the people have spoken…”

Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913-October 24, 2005)

Rosa Parks was born Rosa McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, the daughter of James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona, a teacher. Her mother schooled her at home until, at age eleven, she enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. She attended Alabama State Teacher’s High School but left before graduation to care for her mother. In December 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Alabama.  With her husband’s encouragement, Rosa completed her high school education in1934. From the beginning of their marriage Raymond and Rosa embraced social activism, working for example to secure the release of the Scottsboro Boys, nine Black youths accused of raping two white girls. They were eventually found innocent.

During the 1940’s Rosa Parks joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and served as secretary of the branch from 1943 until 1956. She proved adept at working with young people and helped train a group of NAACP youths to protest segregation in the

Montgomery Public Library: and she participated in voter registration drives.  In 1945, Parks became one of just a few African Americans who were registered to vote in Montgomery. The voting registrar had denied and failed her the first two times she took the literacy test. This same determination underscores the extent to which Parks was anchored to the organizational and institutional infrastructure of the Montgomery Black community.

Weary of the daily humiliations of second-class citizenship and the indignity of Jim Crow racial subordination, on December 1, 1955, the bespectacled and composed Rosa Parks refused to comply with the bus driver, James F. Blake’s order that she give her bus seat to a white male passenger.  Parks had not planned to disobey the law on that fateful day, but her thirty-year commitment to social justice prepared her to do so. For her defiance of the segregation ordinance, the Montgomery police hauled Parks off to jail.  The courts found Parks guilty of disorderly conduct. On the night of Park’s arrest, the Women’s Political Council of Montgomery called for a city-wide boycott of the buses.  The boycott proved extremely effective and lasted 381 days.

On November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses and transportation was against the law.

Rosa Parks is the Mother of America’s Civil Rights Movement.  She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.  On October 24, 2005, Parks died of natural causes; she was ninety-two. She laid in honor in the Capitol Rotunda and was the first woman to be so honored.  She was laid to rest in Detroit, Michigan and over 4,000 mourners attended her funeral.

Prayers for Black History Month

February 26, 2023

One God, in Three Persons, creator of one human species, in many hues: all who pray to you are descendants of Adam and Eve, all members of one race called “human.” Forgive the blindness that causes our eyes to notice and magnify those things we regard as different from ourselves in others. Teach us to see clearly, that we, your children, are far more alike than we are different. Help us to put aside the racial prejudices imbedded within us, and to see within every person the Child of God you created, our sister or brother destined for Glory. In the name of One who died for all persons, of all colors, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Episcopal Diocesan Commission to End Racism

February 19, 2023

Creator of all people, in our amazing diversity of size, shape, color, and giftedness: guide us, by your grace, to recognize the beauty and fitness of all whom you have made in your own image. Give us gifts of humility and generosity of spirit to recognize in all people, the face of our Savior, Jesus, and to practice his commandments to “love one another,” toward the end of bringing harmony and peace among persons of all colors, origins, and abilities, for the sake of your Kingdom. Amen.

Episcopal Diocesan Commission to End Racism

February 12, 2023

Thank you, Lord for those who have brough light to the world with their kindness and courage. Help us never to forget the past and those who have worked to make the lives of others better. Give us the strength that many black people had as they stived to make a difference in the world.  Help us to keep their memory alive and to use the stories from the past to help us make good choices in the present. Amen

Prayer written for a slide presentation on Black History
St. Michael’s College History Department, Colchester, Vermont
October 2007

February 5, 2023

Compassionate God, who sent Jesus Christ to deliver us from all manner of injustice and inequalities, create in us new hearts and enlarged visions, to see the image of God in every person irrespective of background, race and ethnicity.

May we be generous on our love of others as we work towards ending racism and injustice; creating communities of human flourishing, through Jesus Christ, your son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Church of England

Suggested Reading:

1. “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent” by Isabel Wilkerson

2. “How to Argue with a Racist” by Adam Rutherford

3. ” The Miseducation of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson

4. “A Talk to Teachers” by James Baldwin (An essay)

5. “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois” (A Novel) by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

6. “Walk With Me” (A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer) by Kate Clifford Larson

7. “The Matter of Black Lives” by Jeloni Cobb & David Remick – Writing from the New Yorker

8. On Juneteenth” by Annette Gordon-Reid

9. “Say It Loud! On Race, Law, History & Culture” by Randall Kennedy