Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Hosts Conversation on Bridging Religious Divides

Blacks and whites from around the metro area gathered for a conversation on race and religion at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Monday during the “Bridging Religious Divides: A Local Perspective from Birmingham” event held by the Aspen Institute Inclusive America Project and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham (CFGB).

The program director for the Aspen Institute, Zeenat Rahman, moderated a conversation with Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, of Union Theological Seminary and Washington National Cathedral and Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in a panel-like format. Rahman asked why each was in Birmingham.

Pesner said he was there for all of the Jews who marched 50-plus years ago with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“We, Jews, did not start marching 50 years ago in Selma [during the Civil Rights Movement], we started marching 5,000 years ago when we came out of Egypt and we will march for 5,000 more years if that’s what it takes to bring on justice,” he said.

Douglas told a story about how she and her 26-year-old watched Netflix’s “When They See Us” together from different states engaging in conversation through text. Each of his texts was distressing as he expressed his own stress about what’s going on, she said.

“When They See Us” is a series based on events of the 1989 Central Park jogger case in New York City that explores the lives of the five male suspects who were wrongly accused and prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a white woman. The males were known as the Central Park 5.

“I’m here because I want to make sure that…the world is better for my son, his children, that he doesn’t become a Central Park 5, that we don’t have more four little girls who were bombed. I do this work for our children and so that they inherit it from us.”

Rahman then asked Douglas and Pesner how they worked to create what Dr. King called the beloved community of justice, healing and reconciliation.

Douglas said she is from the Christian-faith tradition “in which we believe in a Savior that was crucified and I always say to those in my faith community and my tribe, that ought to matter and that ought to make a difference.”

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Source: Black Press USA