This Item appeared in Lutheran Quarterly, in 1968. There are commentaries on the church's position paper, Those comments will be posted tomorrow on the 4th. Blessed Black History month.
A POSITION PAPER WRITTEN BY THE PARISH COUNCIL OF HOLY FAMILY LUTHERAN CHURCH, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
AS WE walk through our neighborhood we are confronted again and again by the slogan "Black Power." Few buildings have been spared this now popular headline. What does it mean? How should we react to it? Is it good? Will it be the death of us all?
In America today a system of social injustice presents itself, which makes an individual's attempts at personal goodness irrelevant. If we attempt only to be nice to some one individual whose whole being is twisted by this system, and all of its controlling agencies, our being nice is not of much influence.
William Lee Miller says, "The Good Samaritan came upon the wounded man and
took him to the inn and cared for him, and then the next day found another
beaten man at exactly the same place along the road, whom he again cared for.
Then suppose that each following day wounded travelers were discovered at the
same place along the road. If this went on for weeks, would we not think there
was something wrong with the Samaritan's faith if he never thought to ask who
was patrolling that road
against bandits?" His own personal goodness would be frustrated by a society which permitted such things to take place, much in the same way ours is when we expect our personal goodness to compete with the society which has and continues to cripple the black man of our land.
We must then find ways to speak to our white brothers of the human race, not to emphasize our separation, but in order to inaugurate reconciliation and a common life together.
Perhaps the greatest distortion facing us today in this land is the gross imbalance of power and conscience between Blacks and Whites. Because of this imbalance we have been led to believe that Whites are justified in getting what they want through the use of power, but that Black Americans may make their appeals only through conscience. The system has said, "We will give to the Black man when he appeals to us, but the Black man dare not use a power, even though we have told him to pull himself up by his bootstraps.” The result is the corruption of White power and Black conscience. It is fair then to say that in Black--White confrontation we find conscience-less power of white men meeting the power-less conscience of the Black man. This clash threatens to break out into civil war, which could very well destroy the nation. Integration, therefore, has failed as a means of achieving peace among American citizens. Without the capacity to participate with power in the life of America Black men cannot take themselves seriously as human beings who are creatures of God. Unless we see ourselves as human beings in whom God's power operates, and unless white America recognizes us as people whose level can be measured in power which is equal to that of White American citizens, honest racial integration is an impossibility.
Our definition of Black Power then is not White hatred, but rather a necessary means to place us in an equal position with White America. Then and only then can the goal of an integrated common life under God be attained.
people have complained that Black Power will lead to open conflict between
White and Black America, and that if this were to happen the
Black minority would be annihilated. We feel this is a total misunderstanding
of the intent and purpose of Black Power. Let us also say that if violence were to break out, this resulting violence would be a natural outgrowth of the mind set of a White system which has again and again resorted to violence as a solution. We must further add that any resulting violence could never do the amount of de-humanization, personality damage, pain, and sorrow, which have resulted from the racist practices of our society.
power comes from God and we as creatures of God have been given the task as
God's Church of using God's created power to serve human freedom. Man has
always had the God-given task of insuring man's freedom by using the things of
God, which God places at his disposal. Power is one of
these God-given things. As we view it the real problem is not the anguished
cry for black power, but our own failure to use power to relieve injustice and create equality.
It is for this reason that love can never be properly set in opposition to power, for as our Lord and St. Paul remind us, love is that force which is to control all, including power. We then, as the Church can only oppose the misuse of power and the longer we take to recognize this most basic distinction, the longer present injustices will continue.
In the past our country has asked us as Black people to fight for
opportunity as individuals, when what we
needed to do was to move as a group for all Black people, as other ethnic
groups have done in our land.
Now that we attempt to move through Black Power, White fear rises on
What we seek today then
under the title of Black Power is organizational strength. It is not something
out in the streets to be fought over. It is what we already are, creatures of God. No longer must we
think of ourselves
as inferior, for we hate inferiority, and if we are filled with self-hatred we
will project that hatred out upon others and not respect them. Striking
out at everything White in the name of Black Power will simply cause us to
fall into a racism of our own. Only the creation of such power as it operates
under the control of the love of Jesus Christ will be able to change our
feelings about ourselves and others. Black Power is not a dirty thing nor a
slogan to be feared.
In America today where
justice is thwarted by an illegitimate use of
power, the Church, God's own people, must allow God to throw her reck-
lessly and wholeheartedly into a struggle which will create a power for
maintaining justice. We believe that the Church has no other alternative at
this time than to work as God's tool for the establishment of Black Power.
Written and unanimously
adopted by the Parish Council of Holy Family
Lutheran Church on November 25, 1967.
Mr. Leonard Boyd Mr. Luther Simpson
Mr. Robert L. Thompson Mr. Ronald Price
Mr. Moses Mathis Mr. Lonnie Branch