Angels Are Everywhere: LA’s Homeless Army

Angels are everywhere. You can find them working at your local restaurant, sleeping in cars along the street, and huddled in the shadows on notorious Skid Row. You can find them in local colleges, graduate programs, trade schools and even in your own neighborhoods. Yes, angels are everywhere in this city of angels, but their wings have been clipped. Los Angeles is filled with angels but we often call them homeless, unemployed, underemployed, and the working poor. In Los Angeles, the rate of … [Read more...]

The Painful Truth: “I Am Not Your Negro”

"The story of the American Negro is the story of America. And it is not a pretty story." - James Baldwin am old enough to have encountered James Baldwin and his writing when I was still a student. Many of us back then read Baldwin's A Fire Next Time in much the same way that college students today read Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. Yet despite the passage of more than five decades, white Americans as a whole have remained as clueless as the white "innocents" whom Baldwin both … [Read more...]

The History the Slaveholders Wanted Us to Forget

Writing in 1965, the distinguished British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper argued against the idea that black people in Africa had their own history: “There is only the history of the Europeans in Africa,” he declared. “The rest is largely darkness.” History, he continued, “is essentially a form of movement, and purposive movement too,” which in his view Africans lacked. Trevor-Roper was echoing an idea that goes back at least to the early 19th century. But it wasn’t always this way. When the … [Read more...]

Never Have I Ever

So, there I was standing in front of a room full of cops trying to explain how this is an era the likes of which I have never seen in my life…not as a journalist, professional political observer, or a preacher. Among those who have sworn to “serve and protect,” a few heads were nodding in agreement. But, too much like the country right now, a few others verbally disagreed and exposed the severe divide that defines the United States in this infant moment of Trump. I could not help myself as I … [Read more...]

Integrated into a Burning House?

A Pre-Inauguration Conversaiton with Rev. Cecil Murray If you met Cecil “Chip” Murray without knowing anything about him, you’d still get immediately that you were in the presence of a real preacher man. The mellifluous cadence with which he speaks, the way he can’t help but gesticulate excitedly with his hands—this is someone in that most serious business of saving souls. Though he’s now been retired from First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, the city’s oldest AME church, … [Read more...]

Make America Great

What does it mean to “Make America Great Again?” Some people suggest it is actually code for “Make America White Again.” But, when was the United States white? Never! Was there ever a time when America possessed and presented the characteristics of a “great nation?” If so, when was that time? We may turn to the so-called founding documents of this nation as evidence of a “great” society; but upon full examination and honest assessment a true and clear realization is that the words … [Read more...]

Martin Luther King Day With Trump

April 8, 1968, Representative John Conyers, from Detroit, marched through downtown Memphis with Coretta Scott King, Ralph Abernathy, Harry Belafonte, and thousands of people who had come to that city from across the country. Four days earlier, Martin Luther King, Jr., had been shot and killed there, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, and a fugue of disbelief and despair hovered over the crowd as it continued down the road that King had travelled. The march served as a momentary validation of … [Read more...]

Jolted by Deaths, Obama Found His Voice on Race

Only weeks after 70 million Americans chose a black man for president, shattering a racial barrier that had stood for the entirety of the nation’s 232-year history, no one in the White House, especially the man in the Oval Office, wanted to talk about race. President Obama had made a pragmatic calculation in January 2009, as the financial crisis drove communities across the United States toward economic collapse. Whatever he did for African-Americans, whose neighborhoods were suffering more … [Read more...]

Join WeSayEnough Week of Solidarity

2017 has begun and I'm reaching out to see if you'd be willing to join together as the Interfaith Organizing Iniative's WeSayEnough Campaign in a week of solidarity organized around the principle of fasting. We've realized that as we get closer to the inauguration of Trump as our next president the tension, fear, anxiety and rage of our people has been reaching palpable proportions. Many folks are gearing up for actions around the country and systems of sanctuary, particularly for our … [Read more...]

Praying for a Successful Presidency

This must be said without equivocation, “I am praying for the success of President-Elect Donald H. Trump’s tenure in office.” Unlike the Republican Congressional leaders who announced publicly on his first Inauguration Day their singular intention to stymie President Barack Obama’s Administration and to stifle each and every initiative he presented, I want to see Mr. Trump perform at the highest level of civility with wise counsel and above average leadership quality. The success of the … [Read more...]