Ask about everyone’s week, along with prayers for joys and sorrows.
Open with Prayer
Introduction to the “Continued Struggles in Race Relations” Video
In “Continued Struggles in Race Relations,” Dr. Phillip Klinkner confirms that the vestiges of racism for many people of color remain and has not been eradicated. Nor have the practices of institutions in the United States been aligned with democratic ideals of liberty for all. Dr. Klinkner argues that the advance of equality has been unsteady with brief and isolated periods of improvement and long steady stretches of stagnation and retreat.
1. What were the three periods of improvement for racial equality in U.S. history? During these periods, what were indicators of progress in equality?
2. From the 1940’s, how did advocates for equality make comparisons between the fight for democracy abroad and the lack of democracy for African Americans in the United States?
3. After the wars, how did retrenchment, retreat, and roll-backs increase inequality for African Americans? Why did racist ideology make a comeback after the wars? How was such racist ideology expressed?
4. What has your annual conference, district, congregation, or ministry done to follow up on the 2012 Acts of Repentance? If your group is not familiar with the “Acts,” what can you do to learn more and inform others in your ministry context?
5. Based on Klinkner’s research and our own knowledge, what role has the U.S. Christian churches and other religious institutions in the struggles for racial equality? If you were grading the church on forwarding racial justice, what would that grade be? Why?
Closing Prayer in Unison
Light a candle as a reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty God, thank you for opening our eyes to the relationship between history and our lives today. May we lengthen the stretches of advancements in equality. May we speak up loudly fighting and act quickly shortening the long periods in which little progress is made against racism. Amen.
Dr. Klinkner is a political scientist, blogger, and author. He is noted for his work on American politics, especially political parties and elections, race and American politics, and American political history. He is currently the James S. Sherman Professor of Government at Hamilton College in Central New York. In his most recent book The Unsteady March, Dr. Klinkner and his coauthor Rogers Smith argue America’s record of race relations cannot be categorized as consistent, gradual advancement towards equality but rather as a series of dramatic moments where multiple factors aligned to advance or hinder progress. The book was the winner of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute’s Horace Mann Bond Book Award and was named as a semifinalist for the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.