We gathered as a staff to pray this afternoon – not an unusual thing, we do it all the time. But today was different. For one, there were more tears. So much so that a teenager from our Youth Employment Program got up from his spot in the circle to pass a Kleenex box to several adults in the room.
Some, I suppose, were crying for our nation; others for the families of slain officers, or out of fear for their sons’ lives or our student’s lives; and others in sorrow that they hadn’t cared more, prayed harder, or spoken up sooner.
The tragedies in Dallas, Minneapolis and Baton Rouge in the last three days, and in Milwaukee and across our nation over the last three years, have been replaying over and over in my mind today. I scanned the media looking for voices of reason and compassion amidst the anger and pain. As I listened to various thought leaders, this is what I heard:
Stephen A. Crockett Jr., a senior editor at The Root, a news site providing commentary from a variety of African America perspectives
Frank Bruni, Op Ed writer for the New York Times
Chad Brennan, co-founder of ReNew Partnerships, a Christian training organization focused on racial reconciliation
Dr. George Wood, leader of the Assemblies of God, July 8, 2016
Dr. Wood on December 14, 2014 regarding his observance of Black Lives Matter Sunday
As the leader of City on a Hill, I cannot help but view these tragedies through the lens of our daily work with young people in Milwaukee’s central city, as they struggle to overcome powerful obstacles arrayed against them, and strive to break the generational cycles that trap them in poverty.
Peace and justice go hand in hand. And so our work also includes providing practical training on eradicating poverty and injustice.
Whether we’re helping youth to overcome the obstacles and break the cycle, or offering 40-hour poverty simulations, or teaching workshops on racial issues at the Nonprofit Center, we know the prevention and advocacy work we do is part of the solution to the escalating violence in our nation. Seeing the outcomes of that work gives us hope. Yet there’s so much more that needs to be done.
Today was different for our staff – men and women; young and old; black, white, Asian and Hispanic. For one, there were more tears, as we felt each other’s pain. And for another, there were more hugs, as we reached out to give each other strength.