His Actions Remind Us That Church Is A Site For Protest

Church may not always feel like the best place to stage a protest, but this man believed differently. Wearing a dashiki, he charged his way down the main aisle, fist raised and a freedom cry in his heart. His was a solo protest but he wasn’t really alone. God was with him.

His Actions Remind Us That Church Is A Site For Protest
Via Wikimedia Commons

Former Executive Secretary of SNCC, James Forman was a radical activist leader. He’d helped organize Freedom Summer and was there on the frontlines on Bloody Sunday.

And he was ready to activate another political site.

All eyes of The Riverside Church congregation were on him. Meeting white gazes, Forman began reading from his highly political Black Manifesto.

The manifesto listed out demands for reparations. Forman believed churches historically rooted in anti-Blackness owed reparations to Black people. He was there to demand the big bucks.

In front of the entire congregation he stated that all churches and synagogues with ties to anti-Blackness must pay $500 million in reparations.

While the reparations weren’t met, Forman’s demands were heard nationwide. His protest was the among the first to put the idea of national anti-Black spiritual reparations on the table, a conversation that lived on for decades.

Because Western religions were weaponized by colonizers and enslavers throughout history to oppress us, religion is inherently political. Therefore it’s our right to question and protest any anti-Black spiritual spaces or practices that try pitting God against us.

Black liberation is God’s fight. Our freedom is both spiritual and political. It is our duty to protect it at all costs.

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