About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. Annie, your words remind me of a favorite Bonhoeffer quote: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

    You are both wise and brave to speak out.

    • Exactly the quote I think of in these situations. The responsibility is on each citizen (Christian even more so) to be there for each other.
      Pressing in even more to hear the holy spirits voice over the mobs yelling is going to take effort in these times. May we all pray for wisdom in the midst of these storms and know, like David) where the real battle is that we need to throw our stone for victory over the true enemy.

    • Wow.thankyou so much for that quote…powerful, especially knowing Bonhoeffer’s end

    • thank you .these were the eact words that came to my spirit when I read this blog.

    • We need to look to our Lord who is no respector of persons…in His eyes we are all equal, & He desires all of us to be saved by His Grace. We are in the latter days, & things will only digress. Our only hope is Our Blessed Hope. Prayer, reading The Word, & living The Word is what we are commanded to do in this world. All lives matter, period. Our souls are colorless; however, it does matter who or what we idolize & hold ourselves accountable. I know Who is in control, & I choose to submit my will to Him. He calls on us to also be vigilant.

  2. Annie,
    Thank you for being brave. Hatred…of any kind…is our problem. If we think it isn’t, we are deluding ourselves. Turning away in indifference is saying it’s not my problem. Saying it’s not my problem is pride. It’s saying that somehow I am above all this mess that belongs to other people. I have had to examine myself and ask…what am I doing to counteract this hatred with love? How am I reaching out to someone who is different than me? How am I loving my neighbor who isn’t white and of the middle class. If I’m not…then I might as well be holding a gun myself. What breaks God’s heart needs to break mine. He wants us to be bridge builders not bulldozers. Love can build that bridge. Thank you for challenging us to really examine ourselves as well…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Bev, I love when you say Jesus wants us to be bridge builders, not bulldozers. How many bridges have I built? How many peopl have I bulldozed over? Who do I want to be?

      • Kim,
        When I truly looked myself in the mirror, I was led by God to start Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. which goes boldly into where a lot of the hatred by extremists is being fostered and builds Christian Schools. This is my way of building bridges of love vs. bulldozing. Hope you’ll check us out: redeemerchristianfoundation.org
        Blessings,
        Bev

  3. If we love like we have been taught by Jesys Himself there would not be a problem perceived or otherwise. I am an orphan girl from India a minority even in today’s world but I do not see color. My parents suffered abuse at the hand of white nuns and priests because they were poor. I was raised to understand that was then it does not have to be a rock on my back for the future. I am a child of God! That’s my identity, not what this world labels me. We need to move forward in love and stop the prejudice that is made unnecessarily relevant because of the ways of the past.

    • Corena, thank you for your gracious words. You are right in that we are all God’s children-that is our true identity, not the outward appearance or what has been done to us. Jesus went into many places to minister and heal all peoples. May we all come together to bear our burdens as one family united in the Holy Spirit 🙂

  4. Thank you. You articulated so well what has been on my heart but I could not find the words for it. The love of God is so much bigger than hate – be must hold those hands, build those relationships, and break this cycle of hatred and violence.

  5. Rooting out the racism in me, rooting out the “we” and “them” in me, rooting out the implicit biases in my heart? Those are all my problems because I want to be a part of the solution and that starts right here….. so true. We all have a part to play no matter the tone of our skin. I applaud your honesty and bravery and there is never a need to be afraid.

    God bless you sister from another with a different skin tone but the same heart

  6. Annie,
    Thank you for sharing your God given wisdom, as well as all the other friends (I have never met) of mine that have commented to ‘It’s my problem’. It is all our problem, as you have stated.

    I have a 43 year old son that I have worried about every since he became 12 years old. The worry was not because of the usual things of mischief a boy gets into but, the way he is perceived by the white race and police. Of course, his father and I have had the usual talk with him that most families have with their sons, but for our children it’s different…because they are Black. When he went off to college I prayed that God would continue to cover him. I think I probably pray more on his behalf, than I do our daughter’s, because I know how he is perceived, I see how he is treated, how he is spoken to, how he is stopped by police on his way to work (numerous times) for ID checks, how he is even glared at and trailed, in any store he shops in,…all because he is Black. But you know…I have asked myself, “Why?”. One day, God spoke to my heart with a revelation…He made everyone (all of us) different just to see how we would handle this difference here on earth, between each other. This is our true test of Love, Compassion, Understanding, Integrity, Devotion, etc., and if we as His people, can pass this test, we have done all he asks us to do in His word (the Bible). And,… if we treat others as He has ask us to, everything else He asks of us, would be so much easier to follow. Because, no matter the job/position we hold, whether a policeman, school teacher, truck driver, minister, plumber, parent, attorney, etc.

    It’s so very unfortunate that even some of us, as Christians, haven’t even figured this out.

    ….but you, my friend…have just figured it out. Let’s pray for the rest…….

    Peace and Love,
    Vanessa

    • Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I want understand. And I want to be part of this solution.

    • Hi Vanessa: Powerful words! How can we love God who we not seem and hate another human being…I have lived in four Countries and I have to say this obsession with racial issues in America, I just cannot get my head or heart around it. I mean when you hear a four year child being the adult in a situation, If that does not break your heart and force you to cry out to a loving heavenly father. This is not a Black issue. In my mind…The Cross teaches us to reach out, not just upward.

  7. Thank you Annie. It’s very heartfelt when just one person chooses to express seeing this struggle as if it were their own. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to express truth. One Love<3. I'd love it if the campaign would shift from Black Lives Matter. . . to Love Matters.

  8. Dear Annie,

    As I read your post this morning, I cried. Thank you Annie for writing your words, being brave, and wading into the water. I hesitated in writing a comment this morning, but, like you, I decided to step out and be brave…..

    As I watched the news, videos, and interviews relating the incidents over the last weeks, as a mom of an African American male teen, my heart ached yet again. There is such a part of all of this that could leave one feeling helpless and defeated, however, as a believer, I know that God sees all of it and He is still in control. In the daily conversations I have with my 15-year old son (who will soon be driving), I remind him of Whose he is and how he is to always represent and demonstrate the love of Christ toward others at all times. I have been having conversations with him, since he was a little guy, about how first in this country, he is viewed solely based on the color of his skin and others who don’t know him, don’t know that he comes from a loving family, has been Christian-educated since kindergarten, is an honor roll student at a Christian high school, is active in his church, and loves the Lord. He is judged first, solely because of his skin color, and oh Annie, how I wish it were not this way. When my son looks at me and says, “Momma, this is all scary and crazy and it’s not a matter of if I ever get pulled over, it’s simply a matter of when.” He then shares with me what he will do, how he will keep both hands on the steering wheel and follow the directions of the officer to the letter. Yes, all of this from my 15-year-old child…

    Annie, you are so right, it all starts with each of us. It is not an “us” versus “them.” It requires people in community to have “hard” conversations. It requires people to come out of their respective comfort zones and recognize that we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Dr. King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    Blessings to you,

    Monica

    • Thank you, Monica, for being brave and stepping out to share your life and heart. I am white, whether I always like it or not. I have a son who isn’t white or black… He’s Thai. But I wondered for the first time last week (how did it take so long?) if anyone would ever mistake him for being black. (His beautiful skin turns quite dark in the summer!) My first thought when I read stories like what you’ve written and watch videos of other black parents talking about their fears is “I can’t even imagine.” But I’m trying to change that. I’m realizing I have to start listening to more stories and trying to imagine what it must be like to be in those stories and those shoes. There might not feel like a lot else I can do, but I can be willing to do that and to talk to my kids more about it. Stories like yours bravely shared help me know a little more what you’re going through. I want to stand with you.

      I’m also praying. This battle isn’t about and against flesh and blood. I wondered yesterday why the enemy is trying so hard to knock out so many black men. It reminds me of when evil leaders in the Bible were trying to destroy children they were afraid of. In those cases and today as well, I believe the schemer behind it all was Satan. So why is Satan so afraid of black men and the black community? It makes me want to pray harder than ever for your and their protection because you all must have a great role to play in the Kingdom of God and this country or the enemy wouldn’t be attacking so fiercely. Lord, Jesus, open our eyes and please protect our brothers and sisters and their children. Protect the policemen and women who are doing the best they can. Help us all know who the real enemy is and to fight this battle with and for each other. For all our sakes.

      Blessings to you, Sister.
      Melissa

  9. Annie,

    Thank-you for being brave and speaking out. Like you I am not from either side but feel heartbroken for both. I pray that there will be peace and understanding for all.

  10. The problem is we are all scared. And it isn’t now just about African Americans and Whites, it’s also about terrorism and all the killings that have happened lately. And now on the news this morning the terrorists telling their groups to just go kill anybody with anything you have. That’s just unbelievable. I agree with what Eunice said but I’d also make it – we all, everyone matters. We need Jesus. That’s the only hope.

  11. Annie – I appreciate your comments and your desire to seek God’s guidance in knowing how to be a part of the solution, how to react in your own community to these events. Hatred, violence, racism, wrongdoing – they have all been in existence since the world was created and Satan tempted Eve, who in turn convinced Adam, to eat from the tree God told them they should not! All of these things are the result of one thing – SIN! Instead of this being a race issue, I believe this is a sin issue! Just think – if everyone – and I mean all races in this country – were true believers, followers of the one true GOD – if we lived our lives in accordance to HIS will, HIS purpose – just imagine how things would change!
    2nd Chronicles 7:14 says “…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ”
    I believe with every thing in me that if we all took this verse to heart, there would be such a change in this country! I will pray for the victims, for their families, for the lost….and right now, most especially, I choose to pray for a mighty Revival to break out across this country! I ask that all believers would join together in praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 over this nation! There will always be sin – even children of God are tempted to sin – but if we – as a nation – return to God, I believe this is the only way for true peace and love between all races to come to pass. To God be the Glory! Be blessed!

    • Shirl, you got to the heart of the matter…….it’s not a racial issue, it’s a sin issue, a heart issue. Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, You and You alone are the answer!!!

  12. This is exactly how we need to think about all of the issues the news presents in the week, and yet just like you’ve said I want to put things out of my mind pretending it doesn’t pertain to me.

    Thanks for being brave 😉 and writing on a hard subject! Today our town has a black lives matter that will finish across the street from our home. As an interracial couple with 2 younger sons I woke up afraid of what the end of today might look like. This post has helped me find peace again.

  13. This is such a great prospective, As believers it might be hard to know put it all in order in ourselves let alone to the world. As a minorities feelings of injustice permeate our assistance in our great nation. I’ve prayed so much for the all that you shared this is the answer to my prayers…. Annie you have hit the nail on the head. Our heart have to break for what breaks God’s heart…Injustice….. we/I must reconcile to God, we/I must reconcile to others, and we/I must reconcile to ourselves. Praying for healing for our nation.

  14. I love when you say Jesus wants us to be bridge builders not bulldozers. How many bridges have I built? How many people have I bulldozed over? Who do I want to be?

  15. Oh, Annie, so we’ll said!! This has been so difficult to digest!! I don’t understand people of any color who don’t respect the lives of others!! I will never accept that two wrongs make a right!! I know that this is breaking God’s heart and is so distant from his dream for his children !! I continue to pray that we all seek his perfect plan!! Let there be peace on earth and let it begin in me!! Thanks, Annie, for your stance on this critical issue!!

  16. What a beautiful and brave blog. Thank you for using your platform for seeking change. Asking new questions. And making new friends. This is my first time reading anywhere within the Proverbs 31/(in) courage ministries where this issue has been addressed. Also a huge thank you for providing resources for your readers to use and have their voices heard.
    This means a lot.
    Thank you and may God bless your efforts.

  17. Proverbs 18:24 KJV says A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
    I take this verse to also mean that I am to leave a positive impression everywhere I go and to all I meet or pass by. Smile at others, it costs nothing. We can either lift one another’s spirits or add to another’s poopy day. We must make a choice to be deliberate in our walk each and every day. Most of everything we do is a choice we make. So why not choose to be positive rather than negative or even absent in our encounters with others. Being kind to those we already like is easy but being kind to strangers and the less likeable takes intention and stepping out of our comfort zone. Remember LOVE is a verb… It requires action to be believed, otherwise it’s just a word.

  18. Thank you for this. This is exactly what we need to heal as a country…as a world. There are so many hurt people out here. I sent out a text message to my friends just the other day because this was so heavy on my heart. My message to them was, “Let’s show someone God.” This needs to be not only to those in which it’s easy to show God but to all. Perfect love cast out fear….May God continue to bless you.

  19. Thank you, Annie. From the bottom of my heart. As a Christian, my desire is to be judged by Our Father in Heaven, by the light I exude, and by my witness. On some days I get all three. On most, I’m simply viewed as a black woman. I am grateful that you not only started the conversation, but that you are willing to continue the conversation. We as a small group cannot change the entire world, but what we can do as small group is be willing to listen, brave enough to ask a question, humble enough to recognize our faults.

    As women, we could never ask men to walk in our shoes. As blacks, we can’t ask whites to walk in our shoes. The suffragists fought for a seat at the table and by the second half of the 20th century, a term was coined: feminists. That was met with a bit of opposition. It took on a negative connotation. To this day, it doesn’t set well with men or women. But the movement opened the door for (in)courage to exist.

    Is it possible that some feminists did not speak for all women? Is it possible that some feminists were less than honorable? Of course. However, the purpose of the movement ushered in opportunities that weren’t available. A number of women suffered in the infancy of the movement so that their daughters could walk; now their granddaughters run.

    So, if your desire is to understand the complaints of another group, put your own struggles in its place. But take it further, sit down with a black woman and ask her what her dinner conversations were like growing up then compare them to yours. It is then you will be able to grasp the challenges.

    You see, I will tell my daughter that God loves her and she is His and no weapon formed against her shall prosper. But I will also tell her that in 1992 when I was a freshmen at a predominately white university in West Texas, the powers that be thought it would be a good idea to bring Confederate reenactors to the dining hall in a grand celebration of “Texas”. I will tell her that I was sitting next to a window, dining with my friend, who happened to be white. I will explain how as the two reenactors were leaving, one saw me, looked at her, then back at me and stopped. In his tracks. He turned, placed his foot upon the window ledge, propped the butt of his rifle on his knee and stared me down. This was for his entertainment. This was the day I found out I was black. My daughter will hear that story.

    My mother told me that her grandfather was a white man that had five children by a black mistress and that her house was burnt down because of it. But, because he was a banker, his offsprings were allowed to go into a bank in the Jim Crow era and withdraw money to buy clothes, cars, attend college and that he held their hands in public and allowed them to call him ‘daddy’. And since small town east Texas was not favorable to blacks, he built a ‘colored’ school so that his kids could get an education.

    Do you know your friend’s stories? Not the Black History Month stories, but your friend’s? Your children’s daycare workers? PTSA members? When you do know their stories, then you will be able to counter the conversations when a group of people that look like you turn the conversation down a path that is not accurate, righteous or holy. That is when you are not the problem: when you are not silent.

    Annie, God is with you and with every woman who has commented, considering commenting, or has read these comments. Allow God to lead you in everything that you do. I pray for God’s healing in all of your lives. God is still on the throne. Be blessed.

    • Thank you, Lillian, for your comment. We live in a small community and feel like we are in a bubble. Honestly, I just don’t fully understand the difficulty. Call me naive. I tend to see people as people…not the color of skin. However, your comments have cracked open a beginning of understanding. You worded it in a way that I had an “ah-ha” moment. Thank you so much.

      And, thank you, Annie, for being honest and transparent. Thank you for getting this conversation started.

    • Oh my GOSH, Lillian. You nailed it!
      I would love to live in an area where I could have black women friends, to really get to know, to know their stories and to let them know mine! But for the past 22 years, we’ve been living in a tiny, beautiful, Nort Central Montana town. There are a handful, literally about 5 or 6, black people here. Some are younger bi-racial guys and the rest are bi-racial kids of young, single, white moms. And no, we didn’t move here to get away from other ethnicities, we moved here due to my husband’s job.
      I’ve been avoiding the news online a lot lately. (We don’t have TV anymore). I did read about the events in Dallas and it made me sick, for everyone involved. I’ll admit I did look it up because my 33 yr-old son was so sick about it. Literally sick to his stomach, crying, and so heartsore. He’s a Sgt. Detective in what’s known as “Boomtown, USA”; otherwise known as Williston, North Dakota. He has quite a few good black friends on the force there, and in other cities across ND. I’ve met the ones he works with, AND have met their wives. Sadly, I don’t know them well, due to the 8 hour driving time between us.
      All that to say that I too want to be part of the solution. I WANT to be part of spreading the Good News of Christ Jesus and His Love because He really THE only ONE who will heal us ALL.
      I too have some places in my heart I need to work on and I’m going to make that more of a priority than I have been lately.
      Lillian, thank you for your very wise words today.
      Annie Downs, Thank YOU for stepping out of your comfort zone and being brave with this incredible post today.
      The comments here say you’ve given us all a great deal to think about, AND to DO!
      I feel like I’m suddenly in a TRUTH GROUP with all the dialogue here in the Comment section. It’s a VERY GOOD group!
      Thank you Jesus, for the brave, wise women in this thread. Lord, You’ve opened my eyes to a lot today. Amen.

  20. During a weekly prayer service at my church Wednesday evening I was praying for our country when this giant wave of sadness and grief consumed me and the dripping tears became sobs. And when I read Monica’s comment my heart broke again. I have to admit that I never even thought about such a scenario when my son was growing up . Annie, thank you, thank you for this extremely timely devotion. And to each responder thank you for sharing. I’m going to re-read this devotion a lot in the coming weeks. It helps my anxious heart knowing that we all share the same burden for our country and for all mankind, and we all share the same answer, the only real answer… prayer and the hand of God. God bless each of you and thank you for taking the time to respond. Even the smallest response will speak to someone’s heart.

  21. Annie, thank you for your brave post. The issue of racism, and even those racist-like thoughts I’ve guarded in my heart have been some things God has been dealing with in me. You’re so right. It’s not “Us” vs “Them.” It’s simply “US.” As in all of us, united in our humanity.

    Thank you for being real, for sharing your heart, and the truths you have here today. I need those reminders to love as Jesus does, no matter the color of another’s skin.

  22. YOU articulated what I have been unable!!!!! Thanks for being brave and taking the risk of “saying the wrong thing”! (And I have appreciated reading the thoughtful comments so far!)

  23. Annie….just this morning I was thinking about posting kind of a confession. These last few weeks have been a magnifier of my heart…..the other day I caught myself avoiding a man because of his ethnicity. He was not a black man….but it doesn’t matter. I caught my self almost subconsciously avoiding this man because of his ethnicity and encounters I’ve had with others in the past of his same culture. That’s not right….there are so many dark things in our hearts. We don’t even realize they are there til the light shines in….so thank you for posting this. You are right ….this is my problem too

  24. Beautiful! Thank you for being brave. Praying for PEACE in the world. GOD is with us.

  25. Annie, I praise the Lord for your courage and these wonderful words from the heart. As I think about these things and what God has been so gracious to teach, I keep seeing that hatred and fear underline these behaviors, these divisions. Each one of us is a child of God who is so loved and adored by our Father. Its not just skin color, but disability, social class, labels, pasts, cultures that starts these things-to quote a couple of movies, “when one labels one an enemy, all else is permissible” but “God loves diversity.” When we invite the Lord to color our perceptions with His love, this all drops away and we are one family in Christ who is love. I am so blessed for each post here, each new way of seeing this. May we each see with His eyes of love each of our brother and sisters, seeking to reach out a hand as family to bear these burdens together 🙂

  26. Thank you Annie for writing this! I know God is in the middle of my conversations!
    I have been feeling so conflicted! I am a Mother of 3 mixed African American young men and also a Grandmother of 4 African American children. I also am a retired Corrections Deputy who has seen racism up front and close on both sides, from both sides!
    My oldest son (33 yrs old) has had the hardest time with this, he is the rebel, with the most to lose, his family! They live in Clackamah Or and about a month ago a young white man dressed in a militia uniform paraded in front of their house with the confederate flag. He called me the next day, I told him to call and make a police report and he did.

    Andre and I have had lots of conversations about how to approach situations and he would always say to me but it’s not fair, he would continue to hit the brick wall head on and I would tell him there are other ways around the brick wall. On Sunday he posted this on Facebook:

    Someone asked me “what is the answers” about police brutality. As an African American, a criminal Justice student and a child born into a multi racial family I have come up with my answers from my level as a citizen.
    I live in a white community but I’m always in the black communities. This message is coming from someone who at a young age I rebelled against police.
    My answer for me at my citizen level is:
    Interact with these police, acknowledge them, respect their job and duties and show appreciation for their service. What this will do is create a relationship so when I see them next time we can talk on another level and move forward on how we can resolve harassment, brutality and profiling.
    If we don’t respect each other, learn from each other, teach each other than there will be no progress.
    We need to teach the police how we communicate as African Americans we also need to stop resisting. At the same time police need to respect our communicating ways and have a respect for us as humans, our rights ab out o u r life.

    I called and told him how proud I was of him and then he posted this:

    A lot of people are misguided, misled, misinformed. We are creating divide instead of bridging the gap.
    I sat for 5 days people asking me what do I think and I could only respond I don’t know and for the first time just heard people out and asked how they felt. I found out that we are displaced by emotion from hurt, pain, suffering, anger, rage.
    One thing I found out is:
    They train people to be police but they don’t train them how to work in African American communities and how to communicate with African American people and since I point the blame at them I have to also point blame at us and say that we need to also learn to communicate with police. Not all are bad; not all are good.
    The problem is FEAR! We have two sides backed into a corner. Police can’t relate with African Americans and African Americans have long been profiled and brutalized by law enforcement.
    The level ground is COMMUNICATION! Get to know these people (for both sides) when there is not a need for police presence.

  27. Annie,

    You are so right on here. It is no longer a race issue, but a love issue. God commanded us to love each other no matter what. He created us all red, yellow, black and white. We are precious in His sight. All Americans need to get talking and stop racial profiling. We need to start loving. As one pastor put it we need to believe the best about people and not judge till you know the story!

    Blessings 🙂

  28. Annie, I thank you for being brave! I will file this blog and all the comments so I can read it all again and again. Ladies, please allow an older (MUCH older) woman to share a slice of my growing up years. So you’ll see what I saw “way back in the day”. Your comments today are balm to my soul.

    My father was a laborer, my mother sewed for others and stayed home to care for my sister and myself. We lived in a small wooden house, had only the car Dad drove, (mother never learned to drive). We walked to school with others. We are white. Half a block from our street, next to the railroad tracks, in a little cluster of shacks which everyone called “shanty town” lived a family with several children and we all played together. In writing memories for my own children I wrote how, in that family, the daddy was black, the mommy was white, and the children were many shades of brown. They were all a part of “us”. The “us” who climbed street signs and played kick the can in the afternoons and sang goofy songs.

    Half a block straight up the street from our little house there was a large, beautifully cared for white house with flowers and everything clean. My friend Dee Dee and her brother lived there with their parents. They were black. One afternoon Dee Dee and I were playing and her mother told her to come inside and get the things she was to take to “Grandpa”, and asked if I wanted to walk with her. She gave us the things to carry and we walked a couple of blocks and came to a tiny house which sat back from the street. Dee Dee said he wasn’t really her grandpa; everyone took care of him. We knocked on the door and at the man’s response we carried the dishes of food and the warm bread inside and the elderly man asked us to place them on his table. He sat in an old rocking chair.

    The one room house was clean and orderly. Two chairs sat beside the table; in response to his asking us to sit and tell him the news we sat on the edge of his bed. Dee Dee talked about her family and the dog and school and the man smoked his pipe and nodded his head. When Dee Dee said we should leave so he could eat his dinner he thanked us for coming. She stepped to his side and leaned over and kissed his cheek, and he smiled, so I did the same. His eyes filled with tears and he touched my arm and said, “You got a good mama!” All the way home I felt the warmth of his cheek and that it hadn’t felt any different than my father’s face when I hugged him.

    Fast forward to the fifties and I was in WV with my in-laws, waiting for my husband to got out of the Army. My father-in-law worked for a coal company; the post office was in the company store; I walked there along the dirt road that ran between the river and the first row of housing for black workers. The houses were all alike; women would be scrounging the dry river bed for wood for their stoves; the men would be polishing big fancy cars. Except at one house where there was no big car, no car at all; where there were little girls on the front porch playing. The railings were solid, hip high to grownups. I hummed when I walked so the little ones would pop up from behind the railing and smile at me and I would tell them how pretty they looked that day, and ask how they were, and then one day a man stepped out of the door and to the front of the porch and said, “Please, could I speak to you Miss?” I said that he could.

    He said, “You’re not from round here, are you”? When I asked how he knew that he said, “because you speak to my children. White folks here don’t do that.” I told him they were beautiful children and I had enjoyed talking to them while I was there. He asked where I lived and I told him “Iowa”, he asked if there were black people in Iowa. I said “yes, I went to school with black children and grew up with them.” He asked if there was work for black people there and I said I thought there was work for anyone who wanted to work. He stood quietly for a bit and I could see his throat working. Then he asked “Would I be able to ride to Iowa when you go so I could find work? I could move my family?” My heart broke. I could only just manage to say, “I’m so sorry. We’ll be traveling by bus.” He nodded, said “thank you Miss” and turned and went inside.

    I can still see his face. As I grew older I told people about the unfairness I’d seen there. About how rotten I felt every time I met a black person as I walked along the boardwalk and that person would step off into the dusty road until I passed. About how thoroughly I disliked the fact that whites wouldn’t allow black people to drink at the same fountains or use the same restrooms or eat in the same cafes. They could enter a separate room from outside; order food through a window and then sit in that room to eat it. The white people wouldn’t speak decently to them but the car lots would sell them automobiles that they surely knew they would never be able to pay off. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

    There is one thing that has struck me all these years and that is that in the weeks I lived in that coal camp the only time I ever heard anyone use the despicable “n” word it was a black person from a “higher” position who used it, against those black people who were “lower class”.

    Today I follow the Decision America 2016 Tour with Franklin Graham as he speaks at the capital of every state in this nation. People come out by the thousands for a noon time Prayer Rally at their state capital; Franklin leads them in prayers of repentance for the sins of each one and their families and the sins of this nation and they stand together and reach out to take the hands of those next to them and pray for our country. BGEA.org shows pictures and stories and I sit and look at the expressions on those faces and weep as I see black hands clutching white ones and the hearts all seeking help for this USA. In August the rallies will re-commence and the final states will be visited, with the final rally in Raleigh, NC October 13th. I have prayed for the people who work so hard to get their state capital ready for the rally. A group of women had gathered on a regular basis and walked the grounds of their state capital and prayed for their leadership and our nation. One woman said, “We prayed for someone to come and help and Franklin came.” Jesus Christ is the only answer. And praying people must stand in the gap.