For the month of June, the movie Just Mercy is free on many streaming platforms. As we continue to wrestle with the complexity of race and justice in our country, I have invited my friend and colleague Pastor Dominique Gilliard to lead us in a discussion on this movie. Rev. Gilliard is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for our denomination as well as the author of the 2018 reader’s choice award-winning book, Rethinking Incarceration.
Rev. Gilliard is a trusted and well-researched voice in the history of the racialized incarceration system in the United States. In his book, he builds on the work of Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy), and Christopher D. Marshall (Compassionate Justice) to create a readable narrative of this racialized history. Gilliard provides a survey on the history of mass incarceration, including “black codes” (restrictive laws passed in the late 19th century), convict leasing, and modern prison labor. He also takes the church to task for failing to “reckon with the reality that ever since black people were stolen from Africa and trafficked to this land, they have been dehumanized, abused, criminalized, incarcerated, exploited for profit, and governed in distinctively sinister ways."
One part of Rev. Gilliard's job with the denomination is planning and implementing a journey to understanding racial righteousness called Sankofa. Sankofa is an invitation to understand race as a critical component of our Christian discipleship. It is an interactive, spiritual formation, pilgrimage that equips Christians to pursue racial righteousness inside and outside the church. This relational journey traces the history of race in the U.S., and tangibly equips believers to begin living into the church’s mission to be ambassadors of reconciliation. I was blessed to participate in this journey last August, and you can read about that experience here. If you are interested in attending a Sankofa Journey, registration is now open for the October trip - more information can be found here.
Please join us for an online discussion of the movie "Just Mercy" on June 28 starting at 7:oo p.m. The cost will be $10.00/participant. Five dollars will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative and $5.00 will be given to Dominique Gilliard for facilitating. The movie is free to watch on several platforms. Click here to receive more information and a link to see how you can watch the movie.