ABHMS represented at D.C. ‘Ministers March for Justice’
ABHMS’ Harris-Lee, Chhangte, Barrueto and Halliburton-Williams at the ‘Ministers March.’
Four American Baptist Home Mission Societies staff members joined other clergy and leaders of various faith traditions in the “One Thousand Ministers March for Justice” on Monday in the nation’s capital.
Making the 1.7-mile walk from the area of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. monument through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., to the Department of Justice were the Rev. Fela Barrueto, national coordinator, Prisoner Re-entry Ministries; the Rev. Rothangliani Chhangte, senior associate, Strategic Initiatives and Relationships; the Rev. Dr. Brenda Halliburton-Williams, director, Intercultural Ministries; and the Rev. Lisa Harris-Lee, director, Mission Engagement and National Network Initiatives.
Halliburton-Williams says she views her participation as only a first step toward dismantling racism and eradicating bigotry.
“It is difficult for me to watch what’s going on and not think back on the things that my grandmother and those who preceded me had to struggle with to get me to this point,” she says. “I can ill afford to—there’s no way in the world I can—sit back and not continue to fight. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it’s done.”
Recalling her reasons for marching, Barrueto referred to President Donald J. Trump’s recent controversial pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. Arpaio was pardoned of a criminal contempt of court conviction that stemmed from policing practices that violated civil rights, including racial profiling of Latinos.
“As a Latina, it was outrageous to hear what happened last week with the pardoning of someone openly racist, who has broken the law and did it against a targeted community,” she says. “It’s time for the church to raise a powerful voice against injustice.”
Chhangte echoed the need for today’s church to make a stand, especially in light of the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in three deaths.
“People have been asking, ‘Where’s the church?’ The integrity of the church is at stake,” she says. “And our Christian witness is at stake.”
Added Halliburton-Williams: “If not us, who? If not the church, then who?”
The march was organized by the National Action Network (NAN), a nonprofit civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton. According to NAN’s website, the march’s purpose was to support voting rights, health care, criminal justice reform and economic justice.
Monday marked the 54th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” at which King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.