On race and reconciliation

05/01/08 Seán Kinane
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The racially divisive history of the United States, and more importantly, how the country can heal from centuries of violence and racism, were topics of discussion in St. Petersburg on Wednesday Evening. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports on the final installment of Studio@620’s Roundtable on Social Justice Series, which addressed race and reconciliation.

During the recent controversy over excerpts of sermons by Barack Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, some have said that the black church is under attack. But retired United Methodist minister and panelist the Rev. Ted Lockhart said there is no such thing as the black church – instead there are black churches.

Lockhart said Wright’s sermons are part of “the tradition of radical black preaching [which] began in the context of the horrors of slavery and evolved through the terrors of night riders in the 19th and 20th centuries.” Lockhart reminded the audience that some of the sermons of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others were also considered incendiary, unpatrioti, and traitorous by the white media establishment.

Another panelist, the Rev. Charles McKenzie is a public schools educator and was defeated last month in the race for State House District 55. When considering reconciliation, McKenzie said, the effects that being racist has had on this country’s white citizens is about as important as the effect of racism on blacks.

When discussing reconciliation and compensation for slavery, using words like reparations can often be inflammatory, and would be the “death knell” for any presidential candidate, the panelists agreed. Even though reparations for slavery is considered political suicide, other types of reparations, including for the Japanese internment during World War II, have been accepted, according to another panelist, Stetson law student Graham Shaffer.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane/WMNF

Learn more:

Studio @ 620

Eckerd College

USF St. Pete

Stetson Law

Rev. Jeremiah Wright

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Others have not received reparations

During World War II 600,000 Italian Americans and 300,000 German Americans were deprived of their civil liberties and freedom. And almost 15,000 European Americans, like Japanese Americans were interned. No reparations; not even an apology.