HOLY WEEK: Black Southern Women's Collaborative Urges Christians to Remember Contemporary Suffering in Communities Across the Country
April 6, 2023
ATLANTA – The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative (BSWC) marked Holy Week by urging people of faith to remember Christ’s sacrifice and his commands to believers. The BSWC further urged people of faith and organizers for racial justice to remember those whom Jesus called, “the least of these” – those who are cast aside, abandoned in their suffering or otherwise marginalized. The BSWC, comprised of Phyllis Hill, national organizing director for Faith in Action; Kendra Cotton, executive director of the New Georgia Project; the Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida; Nsombi Lambright, executive director of One Voice; Ashley K. Shelton, president and founder of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice; and Tameka Greer, president of Memphis Artists for Change, issued the following statement:
“There were spectators who watched the suffering of Christ,” Greer said. “We should not be spectators to the suffering of those in peril. Christ’s suffering gave us a charge, and it includes caring for the least of these, who are in all our communities.”
“In the same way that people came and watched Jesus’ crucifixion, there are many people who are watching the suffering of others but failing to take action,” Hill said. “This is because our nation is socialized in a white supremacy hierarchy.”
“If our celebration this Holy Week does not include seeing and remembering those whom Jesus called ‘the least of these,’ we are missing the mark and falling short of our calling,” Cotton said.
“One of the things we must remember this Holy Week is that Christ came off the cross and gave his disciples a charge,” Thomas said. “He overcame death but urged his disciples to follow his example. His disciples were basically to become organizers. Unfortunately, in the same way that there were Pharisees and Sadducees in Christ’s time, there are similar people who care about appearance but do not want to do what is truly right. Their only interest is performative righteousness that is deeply hurtful and criminalizes our communities. Despite this, we should never forget that because of Christ’s suffering, we can resist injustice.”
“One of the things I want people to remember this Holy Week is that we cannot be desensitized to the suffering of others,” Lambright said. “Nor can we be expected to carry the weight of the world on our backs. Everyone has a responsibility to do what is right.”
“We must get to a place where everyone understands that they have a role in the furtherance of justice,” Shelton said. “Everyone is responsible for advancing justice, and we must hold one another, including elected officials, accountable. Unfortunately, many of our leaders have betrayed us for proximity to money and wealth. That has gotten us to a place where elected leaders will ban books but not assault rifles. They will ban books in places of education but fail to protect kids and communities from the dangers of guns.”
“This is a time where we must not only remember Christ’s suffering but be emboldened by his triumph over death. We must also see those who are living in our communities but suffering due to racial and social injustice. Christ gave us a charge to remember them and do what we can to help. If our celebration this Holy Week does not include seeing and remembering those whom Jesus called ‘the least of these,’ we are missing the mark and falling short of our calling,” Greer said.
The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative is a network of Black women executive directors in the South who share resources, strategy and insights as they jointly work to improve conditions for Black people in the South. Phyllis Hill founded the collaborative to create a soft and supportive space for Black women executive directors in the South.