Tag Archives: resistance

The color of the day is green

IMG_1708Friday Prince. Today Ireland.

Friday purple.Today green.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising of Irish men and women against the occupation and oppression of England. More civilians were killed during the rising than were combatants on both sides. Guerrilla warfare followed that resulted in England leaving Ireland. The agreement to end that war partitioned the country: 26 counties became the Irish Free State; 6 counties in the north remained part of the United Kingdom. Civil war ensued but did not change that configuration. The Troubles convulsed Northern Ireland; progress has been made toward peace, the journey is not complete.

In remembrance and prayer, green was today’s color.

Note April 24 also marks the day the Armenian genocide began in 2015.

See you along the Trail.

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Holy ground

IMG_1758 (1024x665)I stood today on holy ground. Of course all ground is holy for God creates all ground and entrusts it to our care. Still some ground bears special meaning because of what happened there.

My quest to visit National Parks took Tricia and me to the African Burial Ground in Manhattan today. It is a well done park that tells a significant story.

New York’s African Burial Ground is the nation’s earliest known African and African American cemetery. Enslaved Africans played a key role in building Manhattan as they played  key roles in building this entire country. The Nation notes that:

In 1703, 42 percent of New York’s households had slaves, much more than Philadelphia and Boston combined. Among the colonies’ cities, only Charleston, South Carolina, had more.

From the late 1600s until 1794, both free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6-acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan, outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, later known as New York. The National Park Service notes that “an estimated 15,000 men, women and children were buried here.

Africans resisted enslavement in countless ways: from rebellions to running away to educating children and more. The care they showed their loved ones was another form of resistance. Faced with the brutal dehumanization of enslavement, honoring those who died (or were killed) served to affirm the humanity and dignity of the individual and the community.

Lost to history due to landfill and development, the grounds were rediscovered in 1991 as a consequence of the planned construction of a Federal office building. The African-American community in New York led a campaign to have the remains honored and remembered. Their efforts, after some controversy and hard work, succeeded. The remains were taken to Howard University for analysis.

After the scientists finished their work, the remains were placed in new coffins and taken back to New York for reburial. The New York Historical Society reports:

The ceremonial journey stopped in five cities along the way, so that people in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wilmington, and Newark could pay their respects. Then the remains arrived by boat in New York City, at the same spot where slave ships had docked two centuries earlier. After days of rituals that included horse-drawn hearses, drummers in African kente cloth, singing, dancing, and prayers, the remains were returned to the earth in lower Manhattan.

IMG_1763 (1024x682)The community’s efforts resulted in the designation of the African Burial Ground as New York City Historic District, a National Historic Landmark and, on February 27, 2006, a National Monument.

Today, the African Burial Ground National Monument includes a visitor center with four exhibit areas, a theater where a 20-minute video tells the story of the burial ground, and a bookstore. A short walk away stand the graves and a memorial.

Holy ground.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Human Rights, National Park, New York

19 March 2013, Republic of Korea

After spending the night in Gunsan, JC Lee drove us to the Saemangeum Seawall. The misty morning made it a bit hard to see. Our next stop was in Gwangju. We met with some pastors for a traditional lunch. After lunch, I spoke with a group of pastors. A trip to the National Cemetery for the May 18 Democratic Uprising followed. This profound site houses the remains of individuals killed during the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

The May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising was an expression of civilian dissatisfaction with a military junta that had seized power, thus circumventing the progress of democracy in the Republic of Korea. On May 17, 1980, the leaders of the junta declared martial law in an effort to consolidate power and to suppress the people’s growing demand for democratization. The government sent troops, including paratroopers and elite unites, to the major cities.

IMG_0197The beginning of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising is marked as the morning of May 18, 1980 when students in front of Chonnam National University were beaten and chased off by troops. Demonstrations and confrontations continued until May 27 when the troops put down the uprising.

As is often the case in such situations, conflicting casualty reports are given. The May 18 Memorial Foundation reports:

4,369 all told: 154 killed, 74 missing, 4,141 wounded (including those who died from their wounds) and placed under arrest. This data is based on the present condition of compensation related to The May 18 Uprising, as of November 31, 2006.

Other sources report other casualty figures.

The martial law forces took the bodies of civilians killed, using garbage trucks, for burial in the Mangwol-dong Cemetery. Through the years, pro-democracy advocates and citizens of the Republic of Korea called for investigations and reconsideration of the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Many believe that the uprising exposed the immorality of the regime and led to the beginning of greater democracy. The participants in the uprising played a pivotal role in the movement of the Republic Korea to independence, democracy, and peace.

In 1997, the graves of those killed in the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising were exhumed and their remains re-interred in the National Cemetery for the May 18 Democratic Uprising. As well as the graves, the cemetery includes a cultural hall that tells the story of the uprising and a room with photographs of many of those killed. The National Cemetery provides a moving tribute to the vision, commitment, and sacrifice of the participants in the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. It is a reminder of these people and a witness to the ideals of democracy for which they gave their lives. It is also a testament to the people of the Republic of Korea and their efforts to come to terms with the past to move into the future.

See you along the Trail.

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Lent 4: injustice

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Section of a quilt
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Cincinnati, Ohio
February 14, 2010

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