As many of you will know, Memphis is my home. As the proud daughter of a family with a long military heritage, I had the opportunity to move a few times in my childhood. But for the last 29 of 32 years, I’ve lived in Memphis and have embraced the grit and grind of that great city.
Every city has its pluses and minuses. Regardless of all the pluses I could tout about the Bluff City, Memphis has the unfortunate distinction of being the place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968.
To be honest, for most of my life, my familiarity of Dr. King was limited to his “I Have A Dream” speech, but I didn’t truly appreciate the significance of his life or his death. MLK Day was a welcome day off in January; an opportunity to sleep in after the start of a new school semester. However, over the last seven or eight years, the importance of MLK Day has become clearer to me.
You might wonder how this very white, sheltered woman would come to care about Dr. King. I’m so glad you asked! Everyone has their own journey, but for me that has been birthed out of my faith journey. My husband and I have prayed for revival – a term that refers to the people of God getting right with God (being revived) – since the very early days of our call to the ministry.
At one point, the Lord made it clear to us that we couldn’t pray for revival and ignore the biggest sin in the history of the city of Memphis: racism.
Revival requires that the people of God be united. Racism divides. When I saw the connection, it became clear that as a follower of Christ, it was my responsibility to see where my fellow brother or sister was not being treated equal and become part of the solution. After all, every person shares the same Creator who creates each of His children with the same value. As a parent, I would never value one of my children over the other and God is a much better parent than me!
When we left Memphis, one of the aspects of our move that we grieved the most was the loss of an opportunity to continue our work in the city to be part of the solution to such a painful problem. As we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this week, it seemed like the perfect time to share that God has birthed a vision over the last 9 months that has become an opportunity for us to continue championing healing in Memphis, as well as other cities across the country. That said, we’re excited to launch Race for Reconciliation with our first event in Memphis in 2021.
The heart of this organization is for us to be the most positive, unifying voice on racial reconciliation. The races themselves will be for everyone, regardless of fitness level, etc… but beyond the races, we’ll begin offering podcasts, blogs, videos, and other recommended resources to educate and dialogue about this important topic. Just as I’m on a journey of learning, we want to offer a way for others to have a safe place to ask questions and grow.
Beyond educating, we also want to make a difference in each community that hosts the race. We’ll partner with nonprofits that help overcome some of the systemic problems that continue to plague underprivileged communities. Money raised will support literacy, vocational training, and leadership development.
As the Executive Director, I’m looking forward to seeing how Race for Reconciliation can raise awareness, educate each of us, and bring healing, honor, and hope.
Check out raceforreconciliation.org for more information and opportunities to give, serve, and participate.