Racism is incompatible with
Christian values and Church teaching.
As Christians, we endeavor to
“do justice, love kindness and walk humbly
with the Lord our God.”  —Micah 6:8.

Speech excerpt from
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
April 16, 1963
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.
Was not Jesus an extremist for love…Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel…Was not Martin Luther an extremist…And John Bunyan…And Abraham Lincoln…And Thomas Jefferson…So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?
We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. …. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Letter from Birmingham Jail

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Mission and Principles of Racial Justice Committee

Co-Chairs: Dana Connell and Laura Connell, Staff: Bill Evertsberg, At Large: Susan Bondurant, Sally Campbell, Maria Fowkes, Michael Holling, Jennifer Lind, Lisa Metzger-Mugg, Scott Myers, and Diane Rand.

We are aware that there is a lot to learn about the history and impact of racism. We pledge to bring a variety of education opportunities to our members of all ages, to examine and expand our experiences and understandings. We hope this will include unique opportunities within our church. In the spirit of not re-inventing the wheel, we also hope to utilize existing resources and publicize broader educational opportunities for interested members.


We are made to live in community with one another. We hope to make connections with our broader community, and create the opportunity for more diverse relationships. We also intend to connect and organize with other local churches who have hopes like ours.

We respect all members, their perspectives and levels of interest. For those interested members, we hope to provide ways to put their faith into action in a positive way. We recognize that change will not come over night, but we believe in the possibility of change.

As people of faith we believe that all people deserve equal treatment and respect. Therefore, in these turbulent times we need to learn how we arrived at this point in time; to reflect inwardly on our own prejudices and perhaps more importantly, to understand what we can do to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice.

The first step when surprised by events or perspectives that may shake our view of society is to understand the journey that others have had to take; the situation from which they come and the pain that they feel.

In an attempt to help each of us more completely understand the current era in which we live, we have collected articles, movies, podcasts, videos and books that seek to provide both facts and perspective on the topic of racial justice and equality, historic economic and social facts and then perspectives from Blacks on how these facts have resulted in a system that places barriers inhibiting their personal initiative. To try and provide a perspective of the many issues that have led us to this point in time we have pulled together a series of videos, podcasts, articles and books that help provide insights around three broad questions or themes:

Theme 1 Do we understand what happened to the freed slaves after the Civil War and during the Jim Crow years and the road that Blacks have had to walk for the past 160 years?

Theme 2 Have there been barriers erected in our society that inhibit the initiative of Blacks?

Theme 3 Reflections a half century later—after the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.

We hope you will take some time each month to learn from the articles, presentations, podcasts, books and movies that we share. Additionally we will organize presentations on each theme.

Over the next one or two months we hope you will review some of the information below that provides more light on the history of the Black experience that we may be only slightly aware of. Do we understand what happened to the freed slaves after the Civil War and during the Jim Crow years and the road that Blacks have had to walk for the past 160 years?

We hope you will partake in some of the education items we’ve shared below to help answer questions such as:

  • Where were the last Jim Crow laws eliminated in the US?
  • Were Jim Crow laws limited to the South?
  • What impact did Jim Crow laws have on education development and wealth accumulation of Blacks?

Articles, Presentations, Podcasts, Books, and Movies

  • Phil Vischer gives us a crisp, quick historical survey of racism in the US.

Holy Post: Race in America #1
Holy Post: Race in America #2

  • A short documentary that tells the story of how the United Daughters of the Confederacy used their influence after the Civil War to idealize Southern Culture before the war and to minimize slavery as the primary cause of the war itself. It also tells the story of Confederate monuments.

How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history 

  • A brief description of the history of Jim Crow from Hip Hughes

Jim Crow and America’s Racism Explained 

  • A short from NBC News Learn, After the Emancipation Proclamation, blacks fill local and national offices, but white southerners are determined to pass new state laws to curtail this progress.

Jim Crow Laws In the South

  • Full length documentary on the housing segregation and ho Black people built community.

Jim Crow of the North Minnesota Experience

  • A two-part movie on the history of Jim Crow Laws a team of college students put together in Fall of 2011.

The History of Jim Crow Laws Part I
The History of Jim Crow Laws Part II

  • GPB Education shows how the Supreme Court’s decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case legally allowed “separate but equal” practices, African Americans were anything but treated equally in the Jim Crow South.

Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation in America | The Civil Rights Movement

  • Interact with individuals who lived under Jim Crow Laws. View Black America’s struggles, hopes, and dreams and see what connections you can find between your life today and their life so many years ago.

History in the First Person: Living Under Jim Crow Laws

  • PBS: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
    • Episode one recounts Black response to the passing of laws that segregated and disfranchised African Americans, laws that were reinforced with violence and terror tactics.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | PBS | ep 1 of 4 Promises Betrayed

    • The second episode explores the dramatic rise of a successful black middle class and the determination of white supremacists to destroy this fledgling black political power.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | PBS | ep 2 of 4 Fighting Back

    • Episode 3 chronicles the years between World Wars I and II, a time of increased mob violence, lynchings, and massacres of Blacks. White supremacy was kept in place by terrorism, but three men, each part of the fledgling NAACP, led campaigns to confront these threats: W.E.B. Du Bois, Walter White, and Charles Hamilton Houston.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | PBS | ep 3 of 4 Don’t Shoot to soon

    • The final episode, “Terror and Triumph,” examines the surge of Black activism that took place after World War II.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | PBS | ep 4 of 4 Terror and Triumph

  • Without Slavery, Would The U.S. Be The Leading Economic Power?

A review of the book The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist

  • “1619” from the New York Times

The New York Times Magazine complete article

Listen to the podcasts episodes from  “1619” 

  • Lynching in America

Video: Without Sanctuary, from a book by James Allen of Lynching Photography in America

A map to explore where the reported cases of lynching took place

Listen to podcast from the Equal Justice Initiative “Lynching in America”

  • Netflix documentary 13th by Ava DuVernay about the connection between US Slavery and the present day mass incarceration system.

“13th” Netflix movie based on James Baldwin‘s unfinished manuscript Remember This House. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States

  • One of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life

The Warmth of Other Suns​ by Elizabeth Wilkerson; publisher Penguin Randomhouse

Introduction to the learning challenge

  • For the past three months we have offered on this page information to help educate ourselves on the historic elements of Jim Crow laws and their injustice treatment of Blacks following the end of Reconstruction.
  • We now want to share some additional insights about the Black experience in America. The criminal justice system has been a flash point both in how Blacks have been treated by the system and how that treatment has led to a confrontational relationship in many predominantly Black communities between law enforcement and citizens.  Why has this happened?  When we teach our children to trust the police and turn to them in times of need why is there so much distrust in other communities?
  • Our hope is that some of the videos, presentations, commentary and articles below help provide understanding on this topic.
  • Additionally, we will be focusing over the next two months with our RJC Monthly Feature on bringing you voices of Blacks on how they see their struggle for equality. Given where we live these are perspectives that many of us don’t hear.  We hope you’ll take the time to listen and be challenged.

Articles, Presentations, Podcasts, Books, and Movies

Given the history of the US over the past 160 years have there been barriers erected in our society that inhibit the initiative of Blacks?

— January 25: Todd Maxman, New Trier Social Studies Faculty
—February 1: Robin Steinberg, CEO of The Bail Project
—February 8: Samuel Gordon, Congregation Sukkat Shalom

Introduction to the learning challenge

Fifty-eight years ago this month Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while sitting in the Birmingham Alabama jail, penned a letter to the white ministers and congregations of Birmingham. Given its message this letter has often been referred to as the gospel of freedom.

Now, more than half a century later we are once again being challenged as individuals and as a congregation to see and understand the struggles that Blacks in our country face.

Videos and Podcasts

Given the history of the US over the past 160 years have there been barriers erected in our society that inhibit the initiative of Blacks?

  • Holy Post—Race in America—Part 2 Phil Vischer received many questions after publishing his last “Race in America” video, in part 2 he goes into more depth on the four questions that came up the most: 1.”What about family breakdown and fatherlessness?” 2.”What about the welfare system?” 3.”Why do you say WE did this??” 4. And finally…”Okay, I CARE. But what can I DO?”
  • Who We Want to Become: Beyond the New Jim Crow A podcast with Michelle Alexander, who authored the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, about the disgraceful structures that have adversely effected Blacks.
  • What if we ended the injustice of bail? On any given night, more than 450,000 people in the United States are locked up in jail simply because they don’t have enough money to pay bail. What role does bail play in weighting the justice systems against Blacks?—TED Talk by Robin Steinberg
  • How Racial Bias Works—and how to disrupt it Stanford social psychologist, Jennifer Eberhardt, explores unconscious bias and how it is formed in social media, schools, and other aspects of our society.—TED Talk
  • Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Emmanuel Acho, former NFL linebacker and currently a commentator for Fox Sports provides some honest perspectives and conversations about being Black in America.