Members of the national faith community had long tired of being parked on the sidelines, watching idly as kids senselessly and violently mowed down their fellow brothers and sisters like so many blades of grass.
Rev. Michael McBride, Pastor The Way Christian Center in Northern California, helped lead a simultaneous interfaith service across the country this past Sunday, entitled Live Free Sunday: Honoring our Sons and Brothers that featured family members displaying photos of loved ones lost to gun violence, or a son or brother for whom they’d like to pray. McBride’s PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations.zzzzzzzzzz
The Sabbath weekend kicked off 90 days of action to be our brother’s keeper — working in conjunction with President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper — by reducing gun violence and ending mass incarceration in America.
“We are convinced that the duration of the African experience in this country has been one of marginalization and neglect,” And to have a president — regardless of his racial background, his gender, the time of the year he is in his administration, to have the leader of the country to stand up and acknowledge in the hardships and obstacles that are structural, cultural and economic and systemic to men of colors in this historic moment. All of use really need to take this opportunity to at least acknowledge of this historical nature of this opportunity.”
The Berkeley, Calif.-based McBride already leads national campaign for PICO Network. Our campaign is called “Lifeline to Healing.”
“We are engaging kicking off what we call 90 days of action to honor of brothers and sisters. We want to amplify the next 90 days a movement where we can live free from violence, mass incarceration, racism and poverty, marginalization. We want to amplify, in the eyes of our mothers and fathers, that we can live free.”
McBride is encouraging other churches, regardless of denomination, to join PICO on the front lines in the war to save the young men of color in America.
“As Americans, and people of faith, our values teach us that we have a shared responsibility to each other, and so we stand in solidarity honoring the truth that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper,” said McBride. “Starting with Live Free Sabbath, over the next 90 days, we are renewing our commitment of working together in our cities and communities to ensure that when young people wake up to go to school, they can learn and be successful; and when they return home at night, they feel safe and free from violence and trauma. We are calling on everyone across the country to PREACH, PRAY and ACT to heal our nation.”
The national, interfaith services took place at or around the same time in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Oakland, Sacremento and many other places around the country.
“For the past five years, I’ve been organizing faith based congregations all over the country. We are the largest faith-based network in the country, over 1 million people of faith. We are interracial, inter-faith, multiethnic various states and cities all over the country. We engaged in very rigorous work to deconstruct Jim Crow and mass incarceration and the era of gun violence. We find this initiative is a framework to inhabit the critical need for men of color to have systemic structural reform. And create the opportunity to tap into our best selves. We’re very excited about the possibilities. We are using the the weekend to tap into this.”
McBride brilliantly countered conservatives who opposed Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative as a racially exclusive campaign.
“I think it’s always important to appreciate the fact that a targeted focus on a particular need does not equate to being an exclusionary of other people’s needs. If my toes are hurting and I deal with my toes, that doesn’t mean that hand is less important than my toes. It just means that my toes need special attention. And in many regards, in a healthy body, the hand will help to compensate for the limitations of the toe. We are one body with many parts. And as Dr. King said “we are all mutually connected.”
Besides there are a multitude of churches that have already aligned themselves with PICO to help obliterate many of the deplorable conditions besieging our community and young people.
“So we have 1,000 congregations around the nation engaging in this program to reduce gun violence. We are partnering with the Washington National Cathedral, with others to preach, pray and act to end gun violence. Within that 1000, we have over 100 faith congregations actively “My Brother’s Keepers” Initiatve to honor our brothers and sisters engaging in this effort.”
To learn more about this groundbreaking organization and campaign and/or to contribute to the cause, log onto www.piconetwork.org.