But is borrowing King, Jr’s message a winning strategy for Black Briton’s?
By Thomas L Blair, for Rev Martin Luther King’s Birthday celebration 21 Feb 2019©
London’s Baptist leader Rev David Shosanya is the first gospel-inspired Black critic of Britain’s “institutional racism”. And, short of hell-fire and damnation he’s shaping his “King-like” Baptist and civil rights credentials here in Britain.
With no sign of the crisis of Black disadvantage being resolved, Rev Shosanya says, “BLACK LIVES MATTER! They do, and we should not be ashamed or intimidated into keeping quiet about that fact. Neither should we be waylaid or our voices muted by naysayers”.
In his view the central problem – in terms of persistence and scale of inequality – continues to be the unequal levels of unemployment between whites and the minorities. Hence faith-based community action is the antidote.
In prospect and effect, the devout director of the capital’s Baptist Association proposes a new faith-led morality in the public realm. Writing for Keep the Faith journal of Pastors and parishioners Rev Shosanya urges all creeds and classes to rally against “violence, unlawful practices and social injustices”.
Quoting the Scriptures, Rev Shosanya traces the theological underpinnings of church social action. Undeniably, British Blacks have made modest progress since his history-making State of Black Britain conference in 2009. It started ongoing discussion on raising aspiration and success. Yet, they still face a daily struggle. And the headlines tell their every-day disadvantages in every demographic – jobs, education, health and politics.
Therefore, Rev Shosanya aims for more than grudging acceptance. He says, now is the time to “sound the trumpet’ (Isaiah 58:1) and ‘cry aloud’ (Isaiah 58:1). We must emulate “our American colleagues in ministry and community activism…This means resisting “the temptation to be silent about this matter and challenge the status quo”.
With these words, the Black theologian seemed to combine a trinity of thoughts. The prophetical themes of the gospel church. A piercing analysis of Black exploitation in a segregated society. And a critical view of the moral and political culpability of his nation.
In striking tones the Reverend’s rhetoric calls to mind Rev Martin Luther King Jr’s historic anthem for the early civil rights movement launched in Montgomery, Alabama. King energised a packed church of supporters for Rosa Parks, hero of the bus boycott campaign with righteous anger. “There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being trampled over by the feet of oppression”. A time “when people get tired of being flung across the abyss of humiliation”.
The timely and powerful words imply ‘Follow the King’s sermon’. But to make history theirs, British Blacks must favour the hard slog of church and community political action. Uniting Black worshippers. Strengthening the networks of Caribbean and African solidarity in Britain and the diaspora.
This means working together on key policy issues. Including – Faith and Community – Policing and Criminal Justice – Economic Enterprise and Employment – Mental Health – Voting and Political Mobilisation – Family and Caring – Social problem solutions — Youth and Education – Disaster and Development aid.
This could be the right message from Rev Shosanya to the faithful of all Black creeds and classes. A propitious sign to his uniquely receptive audience in Keep the Faith, the UK’s Black and multi-ethnic Christian magazine, and his Word for the Day on Premier Radio.
What’s your opinion? Is preaching social justice a winning strategy for Black Britain? Will the transplanted Black Christian message turn the weak and weary into active change-makers?
REFERENCE: Black Lives Matter by Rev David Shosanya, Keep the Faith – The UK’s Black and multi-ethnic Christian magazine, 17 Jan 2019 issue online at https://www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2015/09/21/black-lives-matter-by-rev-david-shosanya/
READ MORE IN THE CHRONICLEWORLD: Browse the chronicleworld.co.uk reports on the evolving race and religion from a trans-atlantic perspective. Here are some excerpts you can find and read by scrolling down the pages by title and date.
MAKING BLACK HISTORY MONTH POLITICAL
By Thomas L Blair 27 October 2016 ©
Black Britons have begun to dream. They’ve begun to dream of winning …not only a place in the post-Brexit race for resources but strive for a culture of equality for all too.
David Shosanya’s 2009 rally for the State of Black Britain glimpsed the cherished ideals. It offered strong political-cultural models, and stirred healthy controversy. Read more.
BLACK CHURCH LEADERS SHAPE NEW SPIRIT FOR BREXIT BRITAIN
By Thomas L Blair 04 June 2017
Prayers are not enough for our people or for the nation. “We need to empower Faith groups for action in the political process” say Britain’s Black-led Christian churches as GE 2017 comes to a climax.
This is the message from the National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) to parishioners and policymakers. They don’t invoke divine authorship but claim the moral high ground for their followers, society and nation. Read more
Britain’s Black Christians celebrate new generation of “wise women”
By Thomas L Blair © 19 January 2017
Black women are not strangers to enterprise. They have been higglers, pard’nas and micro- lending financiers for a century in Africa and the Caribbean. However, promoting social capital in the god-forsaken neighbourhoods of urban Britain is something new. Black Christians plan to celebrate a new generation of “wise women” in March. In the front line is a bevy of Christian achievers making an impact in the Black Christian community and society. Read more
KING’S FREEDOM MANIFESTO
Abandon Racism and Foreign Adventures
By Thomas L Blair © 15 January 2017
Rev Dr Martin Luther King’s call to America to abandon racism and unjust wars haunts the nation as Donald J Trump takes over the White House. It rings as true today as in the civil rights and Viet Nam 1960’s.
Unjust acts by the powerful against the weakest groups at home are, with punitive actions against others abroad, is part of one “inter-related reality” – and must be confronted. “I was quiet while a charade was being performed.” Then, something said to me, “Martin, you have got to stand up on this. No matter what it means. Read more.
AFTER BREXIT: UK CLERGY URGE RECONCILIATION TO HEAL GROWING MORAL CRISIS
Thomas L Blair, 5 August 2016©
Amid rising Christian concern, Methodist Canon Margaret Swinson has pledged support for “those suffering from racism and xenophobia”. The goal is bishops, clergy and laity working together to bridge “the gulf between our government and those under most pressure in our society”.
The growing clamour came as both the Church of England and Methodist Church have encouraged members to lobby their MPs in protest against “the divisive EU referendum campaign”. Read more.
“KING’S DREAM” SPURRED BLACK BRITONS IN AUGUST 1963
THEY FOUGHT RACISM ON THE BUSES — BUT HAS PROGRESS FOLLOWED?
By Thomas L Blair, 24 August 2013 copyright reserved ©
August marks the fiftieth anniversary of two major events in 1963. As Martin Luther King Jr challenged America with his jobs, equality and freedom dream, Paul Stephenson and his West Indian comrades broke the colour bar on the buses in Bristol, England. The band of dissidents took to the streets with their allies – university students and prominent politicians – and raised hopes for a civil rights movement in Britain. Read more.
KING’S RADICAL VIEWS REMEMBERED
‘BILL OF RIGHTS FOR THE DISADVANTAGED’ STILL VALID
Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington 1963 led us all astray. America was not full of Black and white kids all yearning to live together in racial harmony. Rather, it was the true King that cried out “we can’t wait” and planned to relieve the pain of Black people.
Years before his assassination in 1968, King had the most extraordinary vision of a Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged. This little known side of the civil rights leader escaped widespread notice in America. Read more.