There is an inscription at the entrance to the Lynching Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. It reads:
True peace is not merely the absence of tension. It is the presence of justice.
The quotation is from a sermon that Martin Luther King gave in March of 1956, when he was 27 years old and the assistant pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. The title of the sermon was: “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious.” He was referring to a local newspaper’s reporting that “peace” had returned to the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa, after a day of white mob violence triggered by the arrival of Autherine Lucy, the first African-American to be admitted.
To King, this was “peace at a price.” “Yes,” he says, “it is true that if the Negro accepts his place, accepts exploitation and injustice, there will be peace. But it would be a peace boiled down to stagnant complacency, deadening passivity—and if peace means this, I don’t want peace.”
The Union Church Advocates for Racial Justice also reject this false peace.
Responding to our call as Christians to see the image of God in all people, and to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, we pledge to each other and the congregation to be faithful advocates for racial justice. We will engage our congregation and the larger community in continuing study and conversation about racism in all its manifestations—private, institutional, and cultural—and about the ideology of white supremacy at its root. We want to unmask and oppose the racism that divides the people of God from one another, unfairly empowering some and not others, in our personal relationships, community, state, and nation.
Martin Luther King said that “true peace” is “the presence of justice.” Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery says, “We must acknowledge the truth about our history before we can heal.” This is our main purpose: to seek, understand, and proclaim the truth about our history—specifically, about slavery and white supremacy—so that we can be properly reconciled to one another and prepare the way for true peace, which is the presence of justice.
Anyone who would like to be part of this work is welcome to join us.