22-year-old Stephon Clark was fatally shot by Sacramento Police in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18th, 2018. If there is a vigil to be held in writing, let us do so now. The Center for Religious and Spiritual life held a special Interfaith Lunch event on Tuesday to honor the life of Mr. Clark and others who lost their lives to the same manifestation of injustice. The Interfaith Lunch for Racial Justice was titled ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?’, a reflection on the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The following day was the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s assassination.
In this age of activism, many of us find ourselves mobilized by trauma. We find ourselves invigorated by a fuel called “anger,” which is in endless supply as injustice prevails. We are eager. Whitley Hadley, Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs at the Mwangi Cultural Center, encouraged attendees of the Interfaith Lunch to turn to hope and healing for fuel, even when confronted with infuriating realities. The CRSL also welcomed Reverend Dr. Jacqueline Smith Crooks, a community religious leader and Smith alum. Kim Alston, Program Coordinator for the CRSL, read from King’s book for which the event was named:
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Positive action is remembering to check in with ourselves, to check in with our bodies when we march, with our energy when we rally. Positive action is harnessing and channeling our passions, fears, and ideas into form. Hadley’s presentation ended with Javon Johnson’s spoken-word poem, “Black and Happy,” which can be viewed here.
While the media regurgitates the same “breaking news” headline, another black life stolen, we have to wonder: Where do we go from here? As we reflect on the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. King, many see a leader for racial justice, an activist, even a political figure. Too often do we forget that King thought of himself as a minister, first and foremost: a Christian preacher. King’s faith was the driving agent behind his activism. King’s fuel was his faith, not his fury, and it held him to a course of positive action. Perhaps the place we go to from here is our faith. Whether that be an introspective experience or one shared with community, faith is a well for hope and healing: the fuel we need for positive action.
“You cannot kill blackness. Too much of it is wrapped in unshakable joy, and ain’t that why they think we magic in the first place?” – Javon Johnson, “Black and Happy”