I grew up in a small town, where I was taught that racism was dead: slavery was over; segregation had been shut down; and all people were treated equally.
Yet, as I got older, I began to hear more and more stories about racism still affecting our nation. So, over the course of this past year, I took my family on a journey to discover whether or not our country really has risen above the racism of our past. We visited sites from the Underground Railroad and the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the major city that has the highest percentage today of people who are black.
At each stop, we were confronted by the dark history of race relations in America. We listened to people who are black talk about their experiences of race through the years. And we built relationships with people who look different from us. As we traveled from Cincinnati to Birmingham to Detroit, we filmed our experiences, so we could share them with others. The video documenting this trip is the next installment in our series on The American Spirit, which explores U.S. history and diversity, and it is called “Underground.”
This February, my wife and I are going to share this journey with the church. Mariellyn will show pictures and tell stories, and I will preach about things I learned along the way.
And that brings me back to the lesson I was taught as a kid, and the question that drove this documentary: Is racism really dead in America? In seeking to answer this question, what we found was a complex mix of both racial progress and racial division. So, join us for worship this month to find out about the darkness–and the hope—that continues to rise up from Underground.