This blog explores and examines the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The Black Church's Civil Rights Movement Legacy Is Both A Blessing And A Curse, Pastors Say
For the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, the civil rights movement is not a period of time that only exists in history books; the movement runs deep in his veins -- literally.
With a mother who was a secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a father who was an early organizer for the movement, an active minister and regional director for the SCLC, both of whom were eventually married to each other by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. himself, Moss has deeply rooted ties to the history of social activism.
As close family friends of not only the Kings, but also other noteworthy individuals like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ralph David Abernathy and Andrew Young, Moss’ parents created an environment where spirituality and social responsibility were tied to one another.
“This was a part of my development,” Moss told The Huffington Post. “It was really how I became engaged not only in social justice activity, but I was nurtured and educated in a church that said that love and justice and Jesus are connected. When love and justice come together they produce a baby: first name liberation, last name transformation. That’s the kind of church I grew up in.”
As senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, a congregation heavily engaged in community activism, Moss is a product of the kind of black church that comes to mind when thinking about the historic movement that affected so much change in the United States. The sort of church where members congregated before rallies, singing gospel songs and preparing to fight injustice, with a pastor who delivered fervent and inspiring speeches against inequality. But it is that exact characterization that some say has created a mythical legacy that the present-day church is struggling to live up to.