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Racial Reconciliation in America

Bishop Harry Jackson believes the church can play a pivotal role in bringing racial reconciliation to our nation. Read Transcript

As racial tension increases in the US,

many people wonder how we can close the racial divide

in our communities.

Bishop Harry Jackson says there is hope.

He gives lectures and hosts conferences

about racial reconciliation.

As senior pastor of Hope Christian church in Washington

D.C., he believes the church should

play a vital role in unifying people of all races.

Our good friend bishop Harry Jackson is back with us

and welcome back.

It's good to have you.

Thank you Gordon.

Good to be with you.

Racism is obviously very close to you,

but I didn't know the story that your father was trying to vote

and a policeman actually tried to stop him.

Yeah he was involved in voter registration in Florida

in the 50s and a state trooper, he told--

this is one of those family stories that gets passed down--

told the story of the state trooper making him kneel down,

taking out his weapon.

Then he discharged it over my dad's head,

temporarily deafening him and then he used the n word,

saying, if I hear about you doing this,

next time I'll kill you.

And unfortunately, in that part of Florida

they were in at that time, there had been horrific stories

of lynchings and those were common place,

even as late as the 50s.

So my dad left his house, but it forced

him to take stock of what could he do,

realistically, to change things.

For him, it was he got involved in politics, not running,

but he was just an advocate.

We'd have a little sign on the top of our car,

remember those days, and out in the yards, I mean--

Yep, you have the bullhorn.

Right, bullhorn kind of thing.

So my mother and dad--

until my mother, she's deceased now, was 83 years old,

she volunteered at voting polls and they just

believed so much that was a sacred right that it had tried

to be taken away from them.

And I think that's where the seeds for what we are doing--

Most people don't understand the whole struggle to vote,


the whole struggle to establish one man, one vote--


as a bedrock of democracy.


So dad thought it was sacred.

I think it's really been one of the ways

that we had positive change in the nation

and I believe informed Christians can change things

with public policy and the structural things, most of them

do need public policy change or change

that is brought about because of the vote.

Personally, racism, if I were to write a book today,

I'd entitled it racism rising and then

I'd say seven bridges to peace.

We know that their racism is on the upswing

and it's crazy, Gordon, because you remember in Baltimore,

did you see the picture here of a kid

who was trying to stomp out the windshield of a car?

He's literally standing on the hood.

And this picture is seen all around the globe.

Many of those people were 17 to 22 years old.

They don't know the story about my father.

They didn't live in an America where anybody got lynched,

but there is an entitlement issue, as well as

genuine structural barriers that are making them angry.

And I think we have to address this now.

I don't think things are going to get better for the nation

if we just let it go by saying, it'll just take some time.

I don't think that's your approach.

Well, I agree with you.

It takes active intervention.

And just as the civil rights movement

required active intervention to achieve what it achieved,

if we're going to have true unity in America,

one nation, under God, indivisible,

with liberty and justice for all, not just say those words,

not have that be aspirational and let's make that real--


I think we need spiritual solutions to this.

And how do we do that?

How do we achieve that?

Well, I think the church has got

to work at bringing healing.

Simply put, I won't go into the derivation of racial schisms,

I simply would say in Christ, if we live out our credo,

we as a church can come together in these pockets

around the country.

But we need to work together to change specific things.

Blacks and Hispanics have class-oriented struggles

that are very, very similar.

If they, Hispanics and we, blacks, go across this race--

the education divide, excuse me, and are able to speak English,

do math, reading, and other things,

we can enter the mainstream that will give us

permanent liberation.

There's also economic development and a evening

of the playing field that has to happen

in many of our urban centers.

And I think you can do that within the context

of capitalism.

We're not talking about socialistic answers.

I'm against those kinds of things.

But I think if we don't deal with the things that

make people feel like they're shut out from society,

and we're going to have problems, even more problems.

So how does the church do that?

Shouldn't the church lead the charge?

I mean Reverend Martin Luther King

Jr. said 11:00 AM was the most segregated hour in America.

I am starting to see that change.


I am seeing churches becoming intentional to say we want

to be multi-ethnic.

They are.

And that's one of the great things that's happening.

In the Washington DC area I don't

know of a church that is not integrated,

because you've got-- in the Maryland suburbs,

47% of the population is black.

And you have a huge Hispanic population,

and eventually, whites are going to be in the minority there.

So yes, the church has got to live it out together,

and then I believe we're going to have to decide

on what to do collaboratively.

Your friend and someone interviewed many times

here, TD Jakes, is doing an amazing job

with reentry in criminal justice for prisoners.

They've graduated 10,000 people from prison,

from a program, gone through getting jobs, job readiness,

and they've gotten a presidential citation because

of it.

But if you had 10 churches working together in Dallas,

we could just name off some of the top ones,

we could multiply what the impact of that work is.

Miles McPherson in San Diego gives 100,000 hours

a year to the mayor and the city of San Diego

and says, OK, you choose what you need.

We'll mobilize what is about the equivalent of $8 million

worth of labor to fix whatever problems you need to fix.

So I think it's both/and.

I think it's solving the race problem in our hearts

with our neighbor Christians, and then working together

to do specific things that can make

a difference in this next generation

not feeling like they're left behind and shut out.

What can people watching right now,

what would you tell them to do?

Well, first I would encourage them to go to our website

and check out what we have there.

But I think bringing pressure on their legislators,

public policy pressure in this political environment

could go a long way, I believe.

And there's a justice declaration

that's going to be happening this Tuesday that's

going to really just talk about our need

as Christians to be those who share mercy and help people get

a second chance.

All right.

Well, Bishop Jackson, always a pleasure to have you with us.

Thank you.

Thank you, Gordon.

Bless you.


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