Rev. Billy Graham and Rev. Dr. King united to fight racism

Why can’t Minnesota’s Black and White religious leaders do the same today?

IssuessquareMinnesota is the second-worst state for Black Americans, suggested a recent study. I mentioned this in an email to the Council on Black Minnesotans. No doubt others are aware of this recent study, including our local NAACP and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Director Kevin Lindsay.

How did Minnesota become the second-worst state for Black people when our neighborhoods have been under complete control of Democrats? More curious is entertaining this same question in ways that make it easy to blame Republicans.

The real answer is that we no longer have strong people of faith working together as we did at a point in history when Black people were being beaten, killed and turning up missing just because they wanted their areas to be one of the best states for Black people.

I look at both White and Black preachers today, compared to men like Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. Black and White religious leaders make little mention of the friendship of Graham and King during the Civil Rights Movement.

It’s not the politicians, the activists, but Jesus Christ that can change people. No legislation, no forced busing, no demand for equal pay can change a society saturated with hate, prejudice, and racism. Nothing can change people more than the use of the words of God, as both Graham and King were aware.

In the summer of 1957, Graham and King took the stage together. Just think about this courage, two men of God, one Black, one White in the year of 1957 taking the stage together in Madison Square Garden.

At one point Graham, hearing of a cross burning, said (paraphrasing), “Anybody that would take the cross of Jesus Christ, a symbol of love, and use it as a symbol of hate and prejudice is not only sinning against society, but is sinning a terrible sin against God, and may God have mercy upon you at judgment.”

Graham took a beating from White people for his association with Dr. King. However, he maintained his love and respect for Dr. King as a brother. Unlike many of our White Christian leaders in Minnesota who talk about love for all but sit back and allow Minnesota to become the second-worst state for Blacks, Billy Graham took action.

In a state being a symbol of hate — Jackson, Mississippi — Graham was holding one of his many packed crusades. Billy Graham saw a rope that separated Blacks and Whites and demanded the rope be removed separating the races in this 1952 Crusade. When one of the ushers refused to comply, Billy Graham walked out into the crowd and took the ropes down himself.

“I think both Graham and my father were trying to make the world a better place,” said Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. Perhaps Billy Graham understood Dr. King’s urgency-of-now message? Or, maybe these two men knew that the power of Jesus Christ could change the hate directed at Black people? Draw your own conclusions.

Minnesota: the second-worst state for Blacks. Go to your church on Sunday and ask your preacher how and why did you as men of God, preaching the love of Jesus Christ, allow this type of hate and inequality to happen in Minnesota?

Where are the Billy Grahams and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s of Minnesota? This columnist submits to you that our Black and White religious people perpetuate this Minnesota hate by living lives of separation and allowing Sundays to be the most segregated day in Minnesota.

Amen.

Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader’s responses to 651-917-1720, or email him at l.rosenbloom@yahoo.com.