Lynching Absalom

Honoring Their Names

Like the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, the names hooked my attention at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. IMG_0856

“The Lynching Memorial” honors more than 4,400 African American men, women, and children who were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950.  Their names are inscribed on 800 corten steel monuments, one for each county where a documented lynching took place.  They are a silent reminder of helpless victims who dangled from trees or bridges while white crowds mocked their suffering. The names bear witness to the awesome power of the sinful ideology of “white supremacy. ”

At first, the monuments hang at eye level, but as you make your way down the sloping floor, they hang higher above you.  IMG_0851By the time I found Florida, my neck was sore from looking up…a minuscule hint of the pain in the necks of the victims who the monuments represent.

Weeping for Absalom

Providentially, the Old Testament reading for last Sunday was the tragic story of David’s son, Absalom, who was killed as he dangled by his hair from the branch of an oak tree.  (2 Samuel 18:9-15) In one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in scripture, “The king trembled. He went up to the room over the gate and cried. As he went, he said, “Oh, my son Absalom! Oh, my son! My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! Oh, Absalom, my son! My son!” (2 Samual 18:33)

In the silence, I heard the gut-wrenching cry of the parents of every person whose name is listed there.  imagesI could hear Mary’s cry as her son dangled between heaven and earth at Golgotha.  I heard a finite echo of the infinite cry of the almighty God  who weeps over the way the sin of racism continues to work its deadly damage our lives and our culture.

But the memorial doesn’t leave the injustice of racism in the past.

The Legacy Museum, located in a warehouse where slaves were held until they went to the auction block, links the dark reality of the past with the darkness among us today.  It’s the virulent flow of bigotry and injustice that runs like an every flowing stream through our history and leads tragically to the Oval Office.

Is the President a Racist?

I’ve agreed and disagreed with every President in my memory, but I never imagined that I would hear that question. However you answer it, the evidence is that the President’s words, behavior and policies have unleashed the ugly strain of racism that still lurks beneath the surface of our culture.  For too many people, making American  great again means making American white again.  The reemergence of the KKK is the extremist fringe of the more subtle expressions of racism that infect our lives and our politics today.

As we followed the Civil Rights Trail, I’ve been rereading Taylor Branch’s Pulitzer Prize winning history of the movement, Parting the Waters.  Again I found myself asking if I might have been among the good, faithful, bible-believing white people who stood around the lynching tree out of fear or the feeling that there was nothing they could do.  When the history of my life has been written, I want to know that I had done my little bit to help us move toward “a more perfect union” in which every person — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, immigrant, native-born — can experience “liberty and justice for all.”

Along the way,

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Lynching Absalom

  1. Thank you Jim. How do I post this on my Facebook page? I can’t figure it out.

    Love to Martha. Dennis

    >

    1. If you go to my FB page, there is a “Share” link on that page. Thanks.

  2. Jim, If you truly want their to be an end to racial division then YOU must stop dividing. Your writings continuously impose a verbal indication that YOU believe in racial division. YOU cannot speak of being and living in a non-discriminate world, and continuously spout negativity about anyone’s heritage. Yes it “was” an atrocity that certain races were treated and killed with only a prejudice motive, and yes I too pray for racial injustice to be healed, but my prayers and influences are aimed toward a positive result, not tearing down nor building up any one. By the way he is OUR president and like him or not respect is warranted. If you really think using your social status to slander is good and descent, (making American great again means making American white again) then you my friend are wrong. Your words, like those in parenthesizes only give indication that you thrive in division, and not in love for all mankind.

  3. Jim….I truly enjoy your writings and I have commented on them in the past. I must comment on this post also.
    It’s a tragic history we have in America, bad things happened to good people especially those of color.
    Our history is replete with these events and I don’t mean to diminish them. However your writings should not be used to infect peoples thoughts that we are living in the same world as then, when we are definatley not. We have come a long way in America, in fact we elected a black President. How did that happen?

    I agree with John’s post(Aug. 16, 2018) concerning the negative comments that you are expousing.
    It is quit apparent that you do not like our President. I did not like Obama, but respected him as President. President Trump is doing more for our country than you realize. Listening to the Left Wing news you certainly will not hear of any of his good works. In fact if he(President Trump) were able to walk on water, they would not report it.

    So there you have it Jim, a totally biased news media that you are putting too much credence in. I take that stand that if the new media reports it, their is fake elements in it and take it with a grain of salt.
    Yes we all pray for our leaders, but please don’t single him out as the worse of the worst. This my friend creates a definite divide between you and your readers, especially those that are out for truth and justice.

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