By Rev. Dr. Shawn R. Moore
On June 2, hundreds of clergy from many faith traditions participated in a silent march to bear witness for justice and stand in solidarity with African American colleagues after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. This is a reflection on that march.
On Tuesday June 2, I decided to march with clergy in St. Paul. We gathered at Gordon Parks High School. I saw familiar faces, faces I hadn’t seen in a while, and new faces. Faces that represented different cultures and different religions. We marched for justice, solidity, peace, and unity. This was the first time I had marched where the police had cleared the road, and the National Guard had lined the streets for our safety.
I tend to find myself in the inside and outside at the same time. I’m a United Methodist clergyperson, I am a former military security specialist, I am a former police officer, and I am a black man. All of these play a major part in my mentality, my ministry, and my personal mission.
As we were marching, I had three main thoughts. The first was: How many steps will we have to take until we get equity and equality? How many more marches will have to take place until the knee of oppression has been lifted? The answer came quickly to me as I marched down the street. My mind responded with: As many as needed.
The second thought had to do with our escorts and our security. As a former police officer, I was concerned about our safety: a large group of people slowly moving in an open space can bring a level of concern, and as driving into folks with a vehicle was a real threat and possibility, I was very much aware of my environment. I witnessed folks thank the soldiers as they walked by and some gave high fives. When we ended the march at Target, I listened, we prayed, and then we disbursed to go home, work, or wherever.
That’s when the third thought came to me: What was my part to play? What was I supposed to do? We all have a part to play in the work towards justice as it relates to race. What was mine? I thought something new would spring forth, but it didn’t. All I heard was: Stay consistent. As a teacher, instructor, and coach, I am called upon to teach, instruct, and coach others as it relates to racial reconciliation, anti-racism, and implicit bias. I will lead where I can, and will follow when it’s right and appropriate.
During this time, I’ve been asked by some, “What can I do?” The church is a body of many parts. What part of the body are you? How are you using that part to work towards justice as it relates to race? In the end, for justice to be fulfilled, we will need to engage in Sawubona (we see you) and Ubuntu (I am because you are).
Peace upon you.
Rev. Dr. Shawn R. Moore serves The Beloved in St. Paul.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church