Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Churches, Synagogues, Wages, and War

One of the things we do 'behind the scenes' at DNWA is put out the word when Dare Not Walk Alone is playing. And one of the best ways of doing this, we have found, is to let churches and synagogues in the area know about the screening. Why churches and synagogues? The fact is, many Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis played a major role in the civil rights movement of the twentieth century (and in the movement to abolish slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries).

Indeed, in addition to being a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Martin Luther King was an ordained minister and a driving force behind the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which harnessed the power of black churches to protest the Jim Crow laws. But some white churches were also heavily involved with King and the SCLC as 'brothers in non-violence,' as were many rabbis (as the film describes, some fifteen rabbis came down from New Jersey in 1964 to help in the marches and other acts of of civil disobedience in St. Augustine, Florida). Of course, King was also supported by many humanists, agnostics, atheists, and persons of other faiths.

The positive role of some white churches was sadly obscured by the entirely negative role of other white Christians. As depicted in the film, blacks were barred from some white churches and even arrested for attempting to attend services. Fortunately, things have changed somewhat since then, as witnessed by the ceremony of apology and reconciliation documented in Dare Not Walk Alone.

However, there still exists a black church/white church divide in America, more so than in other countries (which is why the executive producer's mother, who is white and attends a very integrated church in England, makes a point of attending a black church when she comes to Florida). Which brings us to the Black Church page. This is a very interesting web site which helps you find a black church in your neighborhood. (It also plays some terrific gospel music while you are at the site.) And, quite frankly, it helps a white person get a black perspective.

For example, we noticed that the news section of this site was quick to headline the passage of an increase in the minimum wage, a big event for many people but almost a non-event for the major news networks. We know the measure was buried in a war spending bill (and it does not, in our humble opinion, boost this critical economic baseline far enough or fast enough). But it was big news to many Americans, black and white.

While the separation of church and state is controversial, and the separation of black and white churches may be seen as unfortunate, the fact is, religious groups of all kinds are doing a power of good in our society today. And that is why we reach out to them when we want people to know Dare Not Walk Alone is coming to their town.

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