The New Year is barely a month old. We have just celebrated the national holiday honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the warrior of peace; and the world sadly commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a few days, we will celebrate Black History Month as we honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the struggle for freedom.
Yet, here we are once again grieving the death of another young black man, Tyre Nichols, whose life was taken at the hands of five black police officers on a dark night in a quiet Memphis neighborhood.
Tyre Nicols’ life at the age of 29 was taken before he had a chance to fulfill his purpose. This young man was not a gang-banger or thief, he was a son, father, contributor to society; respected and loved by all who knew him. His only crime was being black in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Violence against African Americans is a fact of life in this country since the first slave patrols were created in the 1700s to apprehend runaway slaves. Historically, the system was created to institutionalize terror against black people.
The five black police officers, who brutally took Tyre’s life as he cried out for his mother were indoctrinated into a corrupt system and freely chose to perpetuate violence against other black people in the name of institutionalized racism.
Unfortunately, police violence is not new. The video of the incident is no different from other police footage. The only difference is that the officers are black!
In speaking to this fact, Mr. Nichols’ mother, RowVaugh Wells, stated:
” …And what they are doing to black communities is wrong. We’re not worried about the race of the police officers. We’re worried about the conduct of the police officers. Policing in this country is focused on control, subordination and violence…society views black people as inherently dangerous and criminal...”
The National Black Sisters Conference is worried too! When will we wake up as a nation?
How many lives will it take? How many times must we bear witness to the senseless killing of African Americans by the police? Where is the collective voice of our religious communities, our African American organizations, and our Church? The words of the prophet, Micah, speak to what the righteous are called to do: “The just God demands justice!” God demands a change of heart.
As we move into Black History Month, how will we answer a mother’s prophetic words on the sad occasion of her son’s death? What will we remember? How will this modern day black genocide be eradicated? Where do we go from here?
With righteous indignation, we all must act! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his book, “Where Do We Go from Here” writes: “Freedom is not won by passive acceptance of suffering. Freedom is won by a struggle against suffering.” Let this February’s Black History Month be our rallying cry for justice!
As the National Black Sisters’ Conference, we are demanding JUSTICE FOR TYRE! and calling for:
Finally, we call on our Church to speak out in the name of the Gospel. This is a pro-life issue that is just as important as protecting the life of the unborn.
Tyre’s spirit cries out for justice and we will continue to stand in the gap crying out in the name of justice for our people.
United in the struggle for justice,
The National Black Sisters’ Conference
January 30, 2023
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