Wednesday, February 3, 2021

 Symposium on Black Power  Lutheran Quarterly , May 1968, Vol.XX

This post on February 4 is a follow up on Yesterday's Post of the position paper on "Black Power and You" from the council of Holy Family Lutheran Church, Chicago.

Lutheran Quarterly asked for comments from 3 others for the publication.  Today's response was from Rev. Lee H. Wesley, who at that time was a staff person for the Board of Parish Education of the LCA [Lutheran Church in America], based in Philadelphia.

 II. Responses [to the position paper from Holy Family on Black Power ]     The first response in Lutheran Quarterly was by LEE H. WESLEY

                Board of Parish Education, LCA
elphia, Pa.

 I HAVE only one basic reaction to the paper really and that is to endorse it with a resounding AMEN! ! ! Yea, yea, it is so! ! I have two basic critiques : 1. The paper did not make clear the fact that Black Power is a term which is addressed to and therefore belongs exclusively to the black community. It was never really meant for white consumption. The word was born out of bitter and intense struggle and as such represents that struggle. It is a symbol of the fact that we are; it's an affirmation of our own validity and worth as a corporate person; it's a call to experience a sense of community which we as black people have never experienced before; it's a rallying point around which all black people can now assemble in the fight for freedom, justice and equality. Black Power says to us that we are real, that we do count for something and that we must now make our voice heard. When the white man interpreted Black Power in his own terminology as the press did, he did violence both to it and to the black community. It's just another illustration of what this whole business is all about. He heard a new term used; he didn't understand it because he really didn't listen and didn't try to find out what it was all about. Until this very day he has been reacting to what he thought he heard.

2. The paper did not make explicit enough, for me at least, the fact that even with all the wonderful things that Black Power will do for black people and the measure of justice which it will bring about in our nation, it will not solve the "race problem" because the "race problem" is basically a white man's problem. It is he who fears the "tar brush" and not the other way around; it is he who is afraid that the black man is "out to get him," and, if given half a chance, will "put the shoe on the other foot," or to use more familiar language, "will return an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Consequently any respect which Black Power will achieve from the white man for the black, will be the respect of power for power and not necessarily that of a person for a person. No one likes to be forced to do
anything; no matter ho
w right or compelling the reason may be. People will do if they have to because they have no other choice; but it will always lack something in terms of warmth and depth because it was not done out of free will or the desire to do that which is right.

            I suppose what I am trying to say is this: the black community is determined to get its fair share of the American "pie" or die in the attempt. The white community will have to yield that share, either by force or otherwise, or it must destroy the black community. Should it opt in favor of yielding, the 'level of brotherhood which this country is capable of achieving cannot and will not be attained until the white community both desires and wills to do "right" by its black brothers. The desire to do SD is called REPENTANCE and the will to do so is called LOVE. Now I know these are pretty old-fashioned words, but I also happen to believe that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he used them.

Tomorrow:  Massie L. Kennard

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