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‘The struggle does not define us’

Black liberation and resilience will be focus of Week of Action’s Saturday lineup

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — On Saturday, Aug. 28, the Presbyterian Week of Action will celebrate the liberation, resilience and vibrancy of Black people through two main events: a panel discussion and an evening concert.

The online panel discussion, “What is Black Liberation? The liberated Soul of Black Folk,” is designed to increase understanding that “though Black people struggle, the struggle does not define us,” the organizers said. “Our existence did not begin in struggle. We remain hopeful toward liberation and justice. We are resilient humans.”

Makani Themba

The panel will feature Makani Themba, chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies in Jackson, Mississippi; Mashaun Simon, Senior Pastor of the House of Mercy Everlasting, a church in the Atlanta area; and Mashayla Hays, legal counsel at The Lawyering Project in Brooklyn, New York. The discussion facilitators will be the Rev. Kamal Hassan, senior pastor at Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church in Richmond, California; Natarsha P. Sanders, executive director at Centering the Sacred in Kerrville, Texas; and the Rev. Shanea Leonard, Associate for Gender and Racial Justice at the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

“Through a candid and provocative conversation, the panelists will lay out how the movement and cry for Black liberation is multi-generational — and it always has been,” the organizers said. “Each generation defines how they will participate in the fight for liberation.”

Natarsha P. Sanders

The #BlackLivesMatter concert will feature performers from around the country and will include spoken word as well as music. Leonard will co-host with Destini Hodges, the co-host of “Just Talk Live,” a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) talk show. More details about the concert will be announced on the Week of Action webpage.

Through the concert, “I hope that viewers will understand that music is not only a way of entertainment but a way of creating community and belonging,” said co-organizer Monique Rhodes, project manager for Mission Administration within the Executive Director’s Office for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Destini Hodges

The concert and panel discussion are on the next-to-the-last day of the Week of Action, an effort by PC(USA) and its Bearing Witness team to bring attention and action to people and communities living under different forms of oppression. It is a response to the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 invitation and Hands & Feet initiative.

Saturday’s events will help to raise money for the Presbyterian iteration of Give 8/28, which benefits women’s ministries and leaders of color. The name is a nod to the fact that several historic events of significance to the Black community have happened on Aug. 28. They include the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 and other major occurrences.

In addition to emphasizing the value of Black lives, Saturday will help to educate the public about systemic and racialized poverty.

In the afternoon, there will be a rebroadcast of a Tuesday event exploring the biblical call to end poverty and featuring the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a Presbyterian pastor and the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Presbyterians also are being encouraged to plan a time this fall to take part in Bread for the World’s Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation. The simulation is an interactive tool that helps people understand the connections among racial equity, hunger, poverty and wealth.

This is the schedule for Saturday (all times Eastern): 

11 a.m. Panel discussion on Black liberation

1-2:30 p.m. Rebroadcast of Tuesday’s systemic and racialized poverty event with the Poor People’s Campaign.

6-8 p.m. #BlackLivesMatter concert

Anytime: Bread for the World’s Racial Wealth Gap Learning Simulation.

The panel and concert will stream on the Presbyterian Week of Action website.  “Did You Know?” facts about African Americans will be shared throughout the day on the PC(USA) social media pages and also will be highlighted during the concert.

Visit the Presbyterian Week of Action website for information on all days and an overview. 

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