Dear Manny Cantor Center Community,
Late Saturday night, I heard one of my teachers and heroes, Reverend William Barber, interviewed on CNN. A pastor, national civil right activist, and force behind the Poor People’s Campaign, Reverend Barber taught a verse from the prophet Jeremiah:
“A cry is heard in Ramah — wailing, bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone.”
The protests occurring through our nation are showing us what it means to refuse to be comforted. The activists on our streets are showing us what it means to refuse to accept crumbs of sympathy when it is justice that is needed.
I have no words of comfort, as such words feel like an insult to this unfolding moment.
I have only these questions:
Will our nation rise to the imperative that this moment represents?
Will those who are not African American unlock our own internalized racism and learn to stand in solidarity with those who are?
Will we, as the rapper and activist Killer Mike so powerfully shared, use our power at the voting booth to bring change to our cities, states, and our country?
The answer to these questions depends on all of us. In this terrible time, all of us need to commit to changing our nation’s poisonous status quo. For those who wish to take up this work –– and I hope that is all of us –– you will find numerous resources here.
Please email me to let me know what ideas you have about how we can bring much-needed change to our country. Please also share the ways that you think Manny Cantor Center can best support anti-racist work during the COVID-19 closure.
Thank you for taking up the work of justice.
Rabbi Joanna Samuels
Executive Director, Manny Cantor Center