The American Guild of Organists recognizes and affirms that Black lives matter. We call upon every chapter and all of our members to speak out against racial bias and take action to make the world a better, safer, and more secure place for the members of the Black community.
Now is the time for us to search our souls for ways to be more caring, to be better brothers and sisters to our Black colleagues, and to demonstrate our unwavering support for their professional advancement and success.
The tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, the equally senseless killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta on June 12, and the death and injury of so many others are heartbreaking and inexcusable. We extend our condolences to their families and friends, and we stand in solidarity with the countless thousands of people around the world who have marched to protest systemic racism against the African-American community.
It is our turn to step up to the challenge. We must listen to diverse voices in crafting solutions to our problems. We must reach out to find new partners to help us chart the best path forward. We must engage.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
― Archbishop Desmond Tutu
We are indebted to AGO Past President Eileen Guenther who brought to our attention the accompanying commentary which she recently updated at our request. Dr. Guenther in turn has acknowledged with thanks the theologians Drs. Douglas Strong, Willie Jennings, and Soong-Chan Rah, who developed most of the material in the post.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
It was not ALL lives that were ripped from their homes in Africa;
It was not ALL lives that were separated from families and marched to the West African coast;
It was not ALL lives put into the dank, dark tombs of the slave castles;
It was not ALL lives crammed into European (and, in North America, particularly British) slave ships;
It was not ALL lives laid side by side like cargo in the hulls of the ships;
It was not ALL lives that were force fed because they staged hunger strikes;
It was not ALL lives that were casually thrown overboard to be devoured by the sharks that followed the slave ships;
It was not ALL lives that were brought to the New World as slave labor;
It was not ALL lives stripped naked and put on the auction block;
It was not ALL lives that were bought and sold by “God-fearing Christians”;
It was not ALL lives that were whipped and beaten on the plantations;
It was not ALL lives that were systematically and repeatedly raped by white slave owners;
It was not ALL lives who were hounded by attack dogs, beat with cruel instruments of torture, and intentionally sold away from their families when they dared to try and escape the horrors of slavery;
It was not ALL lives who were daily assaulted in their very identity, denied that they were made in the image of God;
It was not ALL lives who were repeatedly told they were less than human;
It was not ALL lives who were diminished by the 3/5 compromise, the Missouri compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the Dred Scott decision;
It was not ALL lives whose communities were wiped out because they sought to build a life for themselves after emancipation;
It was not ALL lives that were told “separate but equal” with the “equal” never being equal;
It was not ALL lives but black lives that hung from trees throughout the country during the Jim Crow era;
It was not ALL lives, it was Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Roberson, and Carol Denise McNair, four little black lives who were blown up at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church;
It was not ALL lives that were beset by attack dogs and by fire hoses;
It was not ALL lives but the black lives of Emmitt Till, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X who were systematically assassinated;
It was not ALL lives that have been victims of police violence, but it was the black life of Michael Brown;
It was not ALL lives, it was the black lives of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland;
It was not ALL lives, it was the black lives of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Daniel Simmons, Sr., DePayne Middleton Doctor at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston;
It was not ALL lives, it was the black life of Alton Sterling;
It was not ALL lives, it was the black life of Philando Castile;
It was not ALL lives, it was the black of lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks…and so many others;
It is not ALL lives that are targeted with unequal charges for drug offences, thereby resulting in mass incarceration;
It is not ALL lives that the prison industrial complex exploits.
These historical events did not involve the destruction and death of ALL lives, they were black lives that have been systematically targeted and abused by American society. Yes, all lives matter, including those of police officers, but black lives have NOT mattered for 400 years, and that’s why we must vehemently and consistently assert that they matter now–and in the future.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
― Elie Wiesel
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
― Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
AGO partner organizational statements on how Black lives matter…