Not a moment but a movement

July 2, 2015

The recently mass shootings in the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, SC are a vivid reminder to all of us that the struggle for racial equality, equal rights, human rights, justice and religious freedom continues. This shooting also opened up a number of old wounds that have long been issues of contention and debate in that state as well as across the nation. These wounds have been a part of the American journey for most ethnic groups, especially African Americans. From all of what has happened over the past decade or so, this struggle is as real as it can get.

As African Americans we are not alone in our struggles with the rising number of mass shootings in recent years at places of worship, schools, and public spaces and on our shores. How we protect ourselves and the institutions we hold so dear will continue to be up for debate.

But we as a nation, unlike so many other industrialized countries, are out of balance in terms to the number of guns and weapons available on our streets, homes and communities. The easy access to guns of all types is central to the ongoing argument and how do we keep those weapons out of the hands of the criminals, youth and the mentally ill?

For many in this 21st century it seems odd that we continue to find ourselves in this place in history. This new upcoming generation is trying to come to grips and understand the legacy of racism from America’s past.

And what they are finding out is shocking. Many believe that there are a number of underlining issues unresolved from the past and that these violent episodes and more will continue to be a part of America’s future, if not addressed. Without resolving few, if any, of the underlining root causes that lead to gun violence, we are just taking a brief pause in this ongoing narrative. Some of the underlining issues that continue to fester include growing poverty, unemployment, poor health, mental illness, and lack of education, crime, poor housing and a breakdown in the family.

What is missing in all of this are the people, faith community, civic leaders and major businesses willing to step forward to support a “movement” to make change happen.

It is just not enough to have a “moment” in which to offer some prayers, personal reflections, cite scriptures, identify a number of issues to address and hold a press conference. But a “moment” needs to turn into a “movement” and that requires more effort. The question is then…what more can we do to get things started? What do you think?

Dr. Andrew Calhoun, can be contacted at andrewiiicalhoun@, Twitter #AC53, and Facebook. You can hear Dr. Calhoun each Sunday at Grace Fellowship Church, 3879 N. Port Washington Rd. Milwaukee 414-265-5546.