THE RELIGION CORNER: Racism in America

Lydia Grant

by Rev. Manson B. Johnson
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times

This week, it was as though we were reliving Sept. 15, 1963, all over again, when a bomb blast at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killed four African-American girls during church services. At least 14 others were injured. Three former Ku Klux Klan members were convicted of murder for the bombing.

This time, 52 years later at Mother Emanuel, the oldest church south of Baltimore, nine people were killed by a lone young white man.

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a pastor at Emanuel AME Church and an esteemed state senator, a man of great honor, was the primary victim.

Tywanza Sanders, only 26, was a graduate of Allen University. He earned a degree in business administration last year.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, was an employee of the Charleston County Public Library for three decades, most recently working as the manager at St. Andrews Regional Library.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 49, was a speech therapist and girls track and field coach at Goose Creek High School in suburban Charlotte, loved by her son.

The Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49, was a church singer and former Charleston County community development block grant employee, having retired in 2005.

Susie Jackson, 87, the oldest, was a longtime church member.

Ethel Lance, 70, was a sexton at the church.

The Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, a member of the church’s ministerial staff, died in the operating room at the hospital.

Myra Thompson, 59, was the wife of the vicar of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church.

These folks could have been any one of us!  Can you imagine in our lifetime, with a sitting African American President that we would see such hatred.

Though America is celebrating 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and we have our first African-American president, America is shocked to awaken to such sad and hateful news.

There are scriptures to help us better understand. The young killer judged those he killed only by the color of their skin. Matthew 7:1-5 NIV reads, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Then let’s look at 1 John 3:15-16, which reads, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

Better yet, let’s talk about the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Ratified by the states on Dec. 6, 1865, it says “in Section 1 … nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  These victims were deprived of their lives; we pray for due process of the law.

Lyndia Grant is an author, inspirational and motivational speaker, radio talk show host and columnist. She can be contacted at 202-263-4621 and via email at Visit her new website at and hear previous radio shows on Listen Fridays at 6 p.m. to her talk show on WYCB (1340 AM), a Radio One station.

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