In 2018, I spent hours walking through the Museum of African American HIstory in Washington, D.C. It was there, standing in front of a replica casket and looking at the picture of a beaten, dead body that the person of Emmett Till became real to me. I knew the story, but I had made it someone else’s history.
Today, as I stood and read the new marker in Park Central Square, a remembrance of the shameful lynchings there in 1906, I decided that no longer was that story someone else’s. It is mine. It is ours. Horace B. Duncan, Fred Coker, and William Allen are people I will remember.
The words on the plaque begin: “On Good Friday, April 13 1906.” I don’t think I ever got the implications of this before. It was on Holy Saturday that thousands gathered and cheered, “Lynch them!”
These three men had their lives brutally taken from them on one of the holiest days in Christendom. And then those who cheered and took souvenirs of the event home, got up and went to church on Easter Sunday. Some probably came to the place we now call The Downtown Church. This was a Methodist Episcopal Church South, a denomination where racism was a matter of course. And I am grieved.
We have to own our history in order to never repeat it. We have to repent of the sin of racism and never let it define us again. Lord Jesus, forgive us.
Now go. Love God and all the neighbors. Period.
See you Sunday (or tonight!),