For over a year I had planned a June road trip to Orlando. I was given a car, but am very content with the one I have, so I offered to pass the gift car onto my niece who works at Disney World and drives an old beater. My plan was to take a couple weeks and see some of the sights across the southern part of our country. A couple of the most anticipated venues were Memphis and Selma. Growing up race relations were a frequent topic of concern. While in high school, Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. Around that time I was deeply moved reading a book entitled “Black Like Me” by the journalist John Howard Griffin. He took a medication which turned his skin color dark brown to see if people would treat him differently. He came to witness bigotry from a totally new perspective. Although the pandemic has curtailed my trip, some of the spirit of Memphis and Selma have visited Seattle this year.
We would like to think we have come a long way since the 1950’s, and in some ways we have… but we still have a long way to go. Recent slayings and demonstrations have served as painful reminders that inequality has long been built into our housing, education, financial and social systems. This has perpetuated poverty and caused resentment to simmer decade after decade.
At St. Barbara, the Pastoral Council set up a small memorial to a few of our recently killed black brothers and sisters. We cannot change the hearts of others, but with God’s help, our own hearts can grow. Let us ask God to remove bigotry, indifference, judgmentalism, and entitlement from our hearts.
Blessings, Fr. Dave