CJA Statement on the Burning of Black Churches and Call to Action - Climate Justice Alliance
CJA Statement on the Burning of Black Churches and Call to Action

Dear CJA Family,

As we grieve the horrifying and racist massacre of nine Black people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, at least 7 Black churches in North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia have been destroyed or damaged by fires. All are under investigation for arson. The first attack happened at College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church, in Knoxville, TN just hours after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the state’s capitol.

Historically, the Black church has been not just a spiritual center, but also a center of family, political leadership, culture and community organizing. For this reason they have been targets for racist terrorist attacks for more than a century.

But these are not the only systematic attacks on Black community institutions and people taking place since slavery. The burnings of churches, along with the killing of young Black people by highly-militarized police forces are among the most dramatic and violent acts we see today. But many of the public institutions and the rights that benefit all oppressed people in the United States have been won through social movements led or inspired by the civil rights, BlackPower and anti-slavery movements. They have won policies for civil, worker, environmental justice, economic and human rights. Institutions, programs and spaces serving largely Black constituencies achieved through generations of struggle are now being systematically dismantled through austerity programs, corporate greed, gentrification, or explicit acts of violence.

Grounded in the principles of environmental and climate justice, the Climate Justice Alliance is putting out a call to our members and allies to take action and be in solidarity with the Black community in the South and to support the #ThisIsWORR (Week of Righteous Resistance) Call to Action. It begins with Black Lives Matter Sunday this July 12 and ends on July 18 with counter-rallies to the KKK action at the South Carolina state capitol. More information is at this website: http://thisisworr.org

As an alliance of community-led, frontline organizations we understand that white supremacist violence demonstrated in the brutal massacre of the victims of the AME church in South Carolina, the burning of Black churches and the police killings of young Black people across this country represents a pillar of an unjust, unequal and unsustainable ideology. It is an ideology reflected in the poisoning of the bodies and the environment of our communities – that views us as expendable labor, inconvenient collateral damage in the quest for profits and obstacles to ravaging the abundance of Mother Earth.

Economy means management of home. It is how we organize relationships in place. This “management of home” can be good or bad, depending on how we do it and to what ends. The purpose of our economy could be turning land, life and labor into property for a few, or returning land, life and labor into a balanced web of stable relationships. Through the Our Power Campaign, we are organizing for a Just Transition to local, living economies that celebrate diversity, equity and the rights of all people and nature. This means that confronting racism, sexism and all other forms of oppression must be central to our work.

CJA believes white supremacy lives everywhere in the U.S, not just the south. In this moment of attack, to be in solidarity with the people in the South we must challenge white supremacy wherever we are. We must educate our communities and challenge anti-Black sentiment in our homes, our workplaces and all our community institutions.

We are following the lead of allies in the South in urging everyone to join in this upcoming week of action. Here is a list of ways your organization can engage. We encourage members to share other ways that we can provide support and solidarity as well:

Sunday, July 12 – Preach, Pray and Act – is an emphasis on acts of faith and contributing to a rebuilding fund for churches that have been burned: https://cccathedralstl.dntly.com/campaign/2571#/

Monday, July 13 – is a day of marches in solidarity with Moral Mondays

Tuesday, July 14 and Wednesday, July 15 are teach-in and training days on history, organizing and other topics.

Thursday, July 16 there are screenings of the Jordan Davis documentary 3.5 Minutes, 10 Bullets.

Friday, July 17 there are peace walks against inter-communal violence

Saturday, July 17 there are counter-rallies at state capitols to the KKK rally in South Carolina on the same day.

Active organizations in #ThisIsWORR include PICO’s Live Free campaign; One Liturgy; the Samuel DeWitt and Proctor Conference; HandsUp United; Transform Network; Christian Community Development Association (CCDA);Voices Project; Sojourners; FergusonAction; Auburn Theological Seminary and Groundswell; Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ); Evangelicals for Justice (E4J); and the Beatitudes Society.

On behalf of the CJA Staff and Steering Committee,

Michael Leon Guerrero
National Coordinator
Climate Justice Alliance Our Power Campaign
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