May 24

The "Rule of Law" and Racial Justice

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 05/24/2021 10:28AM | Quote of the Week | Racial Justice


Our Quote of the Week reminds us that although law and policy play a role in protecting the rights of people, it is our intentions and our will that will ultimately ensure equality, equity, and racial justice.

In January 1963, an interfaith group of spiritual leaders from around the country, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gathered in Chicago for the National Conference on Religion and Race. It was during this conference that Sargent Shriver spoke these words. In his speech, he stressed that leaders in our sacred spaces have a central role to play in influencing the priorities of a community. Focusing on the topic of race, he challenged his audience, which was made up mainly of members of the clergy, with statements such as:

As a layman, for example, I wonder why I can go to church 52 times a year and not hear one sermon on the practical problems of race relations.

As we continue to struggle to achieve racial justice in the US, we must encourage honest discussion and create settings that foster openness, understanding, and human compassion. This week, we mark the anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, an event whose violence and injustice has come to symbolize our struggle against institutionalized racism. Sargent Shriver's words remind us of the urgency and importance of raising the topic of racial justice in our sacred spaces: in our churches and in our temples, but also in our classrooms, at our dinner tables, and in all of our communal settings. It is only by achieving love and understanding in our intimate settings and everyday lives that we can begin to create the change needed to realign our institutions towards justice.

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