Charlottesville, Virginia is the hometown of two U. S. Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Charlottesville, Virginia is the home of the prestigious University of Virginia, considered by most educators as one of the premier universities in the nation. Charlottesville, Virginia is located 99 miles from Washington, DC and 70 miles from the state capital of Richmond. Charlottesville, Virginia is usually a tranquil town of approximately 45,000 people, but on Friday night August 11 and Saturday, August 12, Charlottesville, Virginia became the epicenter of a 400 year conflict
Charlottesville, Virginia is where a “Unite the Right” rally brought together some of the most historically bigoted, racist, anti-Semitic, violence advocating groups in America. Charlottesville, Virginia witnessed a torch light march through the University of Virginia campus that featured reprehensible language and racial epithets that harkened back to the days of segregation, lynchings and the intimidating violence of the past. Charlottesville, Virginia where on Saturday, supporters of “Unite the Right” boldly displayed symbols that connected
them to some of the most atrocious acts of violence against human beings in modern history, became the place where domestic terrorism reared its ugly head. There in Charlottesville, Virginia a 32 year old female died as a result of a home grown terrorist intentionally driving his car into the group of persons opposing the hate speech and the presence of those who advocate white supremacist ideology.
Charlottesville, Virginia deserved better but as it seeks to remove the statue of General Robert E. Lee, who led the armies of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, it came face to face with the consequences of America’s Original Sin, the racism that justified the enslavement of millions of Africans and their descendants, which continues to persist. Ironically, Charlottesville, Virginia’s most famous citizen, Thomas Jefferson wrestled with the issue of slavery and the humanity of slaves, fathering children by a female slave he owned. Unfortunately, Charlottesville, Virginia is not the only place where the legacy of racism is raising its head boldly. That is a painful realization for me. However, I am even more disturbed by the ambiguous, morally bankrupt statement that came from the leader of our nation who lives 99 miles away in the aftermath of the incident in Charlottesville, Virginia.
However, as disturbed, disappointed and disgusted as I am about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, I am even more committed as a Minister of the Gospel to work toward reversing the effects of America’s “Original Sin”. The events of Charlottesville, Virginia point once again to the need for the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) where the oppressed can find an interpretation of the Gospel that identifies God as the God of the oppressed. ITC is needed so that the Eurocentric theological interpretation of scripture that is considered by many to be normative and has been misused to deny the humanity of Black, Brown and other people of color is challenged by an Africentric theological perspective that affirms the humanity and Godgiven value of every human being. ITC is needed so that the
marginalized can find hope in the Good News that God loved us so much that God allowed God’s son to take on human flesh and dwell among us, fellowshipping with sinners, dying on a cross between sinners in order to reconcile all sinners to God. ITC is needed so that the freedom, liberation and reconciliation we experience in the resurrected Christ can lead us to work for the reconciliation that only the “wronged” can initiate through God’s amazing grace.
Charlottesville, Virginia stands in line with 150 years of riots initiated by whites who opposed the progress African Americans have made since slavery. A few of the most notable includes Memphis, TN in 1866, Wilmington, NC in 1898, New Orleans, LA in 1900, Atlanta, GA in 1906, Omaha, NE in 1919, Tulsa, OK in 1921, Beaumont, TX in 1943 and Los Angeles, CA in 1943. Nevertheless, Charlottesville and the deafening silence from Pennsylvania Avenue and from all too many churches will not turn back the clock. Hatred will be defeated and ITC will help achieve the victory.