On Driving While Black

A word of caution and determination.

The NAACP of Missouri is moving forward with cautioning people of color who plan to travel to Missouri. This official advisory is in response to recent strides from local and state governments that signal a return to legalized discrimination, and reduction of protections for the most vulnerable groups in the state of Missouri.

St. Louis recently topped the list of most dangerous cities in the United States, and is number 14 on the list of most dangerous cities in the world. The lead editorial page columnist in St. Louis city said this just last week: “three years after Ferguson and the death of Michael Brown, being black in Missouri can get you killed.”

LDR Weekend takes place in South St. Louis city, and West St. Louis county, where people of color, especially Black folks, are 75% more likely to be pulled over and arrested. Here is a message to LDR participants who are people of color, from our St. Louis based logistics team:

Dear Black sisters and brothers, dear brothers and sisters of color, The Lord is your refuge and strength.

We are reminded this summer of a fiercer struggle faced by our forebears, The Freedom Summer. That season of labor that cost them their safety, and sometimes their lives. We hope you will find your safety and surety in Jesus, and remember Proverbs says “the fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” 

Remember Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. John Perkins and many others in God’s house who were attacked for doing the hard work of racial healing. Remember Mother Antona Ebo, who lives in St. Louis right now, and how she was beaten by police on Bloody Sunday, then stood beside Dr. King to speak against brutality, anti-Black hatred and rage.

Remember that your life is hidden in Jesus. He has prepared a table for you in the presence of the people you fear, and the people who fear you. Read the 23rd Psalm as you make your way to St. Louis. Look at the proximity and presence of the Shepherd to his sheep.  You need nothing, you need fear no man. We can’t wait to see you and embrace you, sing and laugh with you when you arrive! But we know that the presence of the Lord is the real freedom factor, and that presence is with you even now.

It no longer matters whether a particular space is safe. If the Lord is there – and He is – you don’t have to be afraid.