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Kelle Brown sums up the moment and movement

By Kelle Brown, pastor at Plymouth UCC - Seattle

My friends, breathe in deeply.  Take in the profound nature of this movement.  This is the movement, the Poor People Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival, and this is the time where history is being made. 

Kelle Brown speaks at Poor People’s Campaign in Olympia. Photo courtesy of Steve Clagett

This is the movement, and this is the time where we choose who we are, and on which side of history we shall be. This is the time where we must acknowledge that the children and the historians are watching.

The oppressed, they are watching.  The earth, she is watching.  Today, let us recognize that there will be eyes looking at the pictures captured of this time, and they will judge what we in this country are doing will inspire our children and our children’s children, or what we are doing to shame them when they find us in the pictures performing acts on the wrong side of justice.

 I shall not stand on the side of those who lynch.  I shall not stand on the side of those who bomb.  I shall not stand with those who make laws against sleeping outside or feeding the unhoused.  Let us stand with courage on the side of righteousness!

This is the moment we must decide if we will be holding the hoses that tear the flesh off the oppressed as they did in the 1960s, or if we will stand with the most vulnerable, unafraid.  We must decide if we will hold the leashes of the dogs whose teeth rip into protestors, or if we will protect those who courageously stand for justice. 

We must either sit with Rosa Parks in solidarity or judge her for breaking an unjust law.  Today, we must stand with the water protectors at Standing Rock, or with those who desire profit over everything, the people and the earth.  Today is our day to stand.

I come to you today as an African in America, as a woman who knows oppression on a cellular level.

This is not the Oppression Olympics.  Therefore, I am not dropping pain to give myself credibility.  I’m simply sharing that I have been impacted and how I am engaged. I come to you as the great-great grandchild of a woman, Kitty Rogers, who ate out of a pig trough with the animals during the enslavement in this country. I come to you as the grandchild of Louis and Dorothy Price who drove at night to avoid the KKK and the ever-presence of the arbitrary violence of racism. 

I come to you today as the parent of a child who graduated with honors after being mishandled through racist and misogynistic schooling her whole life, a daughter who still struggles at a racist university that seems uninterested in successful graduates of color. 

I come to you today as pastor, a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ who says enough is enough!  God is tired of folk standing up in arrogance and ignorance, speaking on God’s behalf!  God is tired of folk making unjust laws and enforcing them in God’s name.

I have questions.  I want to know when Jefferson Beauregard Sessions became a theologian.  I want to know when the White House press secretary says, “It’s very biblical,” how her word alone became enough support using the Bible to destroy people and their families. 

Listen, you don’t want me to be in the control tower at the airport, helping a plane to land or take off.  You want an air traffic controller with expertise to do that.  You don’t want me performing surgery on your brain to remove a tumor.  You want a neurosurgeon, an expert, a specialist, to perform that task. 

How is it that folks are trusting the proof-texting of the Bible from the people who are actively ripping parents from their children?  

Guess what?  They quoted Romans 13 to sustain the enslavement of Africans in this country.  Quoted Romans 13 to perform mass genocide against the indigenous. Quoted Romans 13 during the production of the slave codes to recreate the enslavement with a new face. Quoted Romans 13 to support the Japanese Internment. Its use has been flawed and intentionally dangerous. 

Yet, what we are doing, this Poor People’s Campaign, is a moral revival of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s work, but more rightly, it’s a revival of the work that inspired Dr. King, that of Jesus Christ. 

Our eyes must be watching, God, as Zora Neale Hurston invites.  We must watch God, for the devil is not creative!  The devil doesn’t come up with anything new.  The devil just re-creates what the devil has always done and pushes it out in public with a new and improved sticker on it. 

We must watch closely and observe, because if we imagine these children as Japanese, we could see this evil for what it is.  If we imagined these people as indigenous, like the children ripped from their families, sanitized of their language and culture, we can see this for what it is—the face of evil. 

I’m here to tell you that all laws are not made equal.  Some laws are just, and some laws are unjust.  Some laws are born of righteousness, and some laws are born of ego, arrogance, narcissism, and hate, under the guise of “protection” and “safety.”  Some “laws” are the scapegoat policies for pure genocide and annihilation. 

We have been here before my friends, and this campaign is a wake-up call.  It is an alarm clock because we have been sleeping too long.  It is a call to say time is of the essence.  It is a call to say there is no more time for thoughts and prayers.  We had better pray with our feet, our voices, our hands and hearts, our voting and our protest! 

Today is about moral fusion.  About inclusion.  This campaign is about claiming all people. This campaign is about knowing that a moral narrative will always be more powerful than a manipulated so-called fact, or a Scripture text taken out of context for political agenda.  This is moral fusion.  It’s understanding that a mighty fist is made from putting five fingers together.  That’s power!

So, we’ve heard what Paul said, but, we haven’t heard a word from Jesus.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them.” Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”  Jesus said, “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

Jesus turned tables!  He did not build cages! Jesus told the children to come to him. He did not stop them at the border. Jesus was an immigrant, and if Jesus was a baby today, he wouldn’t have made it to America either. The manger would have been a blessing in the America context, because if it was up to this administration, he would have been with the other brown-skinned children in a cage.

Stop bastardizing the Bible for evil agenda! This isn’t about legal or illegal, because if immoral people make the laws, the laws are unjust. All laws are not equal!

Saying those seeking asylum are illegal keeps those who seem to agree from knowing the horror they are creating. This is not about Democrat or Republican, or left or right, but about moral or immoral, right or wrong.

Today we say, Black lives matter!  We say, we shall not be shall not be moved!  We say, Everybody’s got a right to live!  We say, Forward together, not one step back! Amen!

For information, call 206-622-4865 or email


Pacific Northwest United Church News © Summer 2018


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