“Black boys’ lives have value too”

Source - Rolling Stone - 7/15/13 http://tinyurl.com/mzbespk

“Black boys’ lives have value.”  These were the words hand-written on signs photographed by Rolling Stone magazine in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in February 2012.  On Saturday, these same words filled my heart and mind at the news of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri.  Trayvon Marton.  Michael Brown.  These two names made the news.  But prior to the recent media fervor how many black and brown boys have died a similar death in silence, their stories never told?  Their violent passing never protested or publicly mourned?

While we don’t know what happened on Saturday afternoon in Missouri, both police and eyewitnesses report that this 18-year old, college-bound young man was unarmed.  It would appear that fear of the looming figure of a black man was cause enough to fire upon “more than just a couple times,” in the words of the police chief.

It happened in Ferguson, but it could just as easily have been Peoplestown.  As I walked back to the office after a community meeting late Monday night past a handful of young men talking outside the youth center, I imagined myself for a moment in their shoes.  What might it feel like to walk down the street amidst reports that a security officer kills a black man every 28 hours in our country?  What might it feel like to live in the awareness that those sworn to serve and protect may perceive me as a threat to protect the community from?

I am moved by the words of Oscar Romero, bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador, who was assassinated while offering mass in 1980 for denouncing government violence and the violation of human rights.

Nothing is so important to the church as human life,

as the human person, above all, the person of the poor and oppressed.

Besides being human beings,

they are also divine beings,

since Jesus said that whatever is done to them

he takes as done to him.

That bloodshed, those deaths,

are beyond all politics.

They touch the very heart of God.

May our hearts be moved to love, and our feet be moved to action on behalf of young black and brown men living at the very doorstep of Emmaus House, throughout our city, and across our nation.

Grace and peace, --


Joseph D. Mole

Executive Director