Monday, September 26, 2011

The New Jim Crow

“Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises - the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life.

“Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”

Those are the opening paragraphs of Michelle Alexander’s new book, “The New Jim Crow.” In the days of the Civil Rights Movement, it was the church that stood up and fought for our people. But today, many of our churches have retreated to the safety of their sanctuaries. As a result, we are losing more and more of our young people to drugs, prison, or an early grave.

Many of our ancestors lost their lives, fighting for the right to vote. But today, more than one million African Americans cannot vote because they are in prison and another three million have lost their right to vote because they have felony records. African Americans are 12% of this nation’s population, but we are more than 50% of the prison population. In St. Louis, Missouri, almost 97% of the population in the Youth Detention Center is African American children.

Is Michelle Alexander right? Is the criminal justice system, The New Jim Crow?

Rev. Burton Barr's Trilogy on KINDLE Now!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011


A man had two 50-yard line tickets for the Super Bowl. As the game progressed, a gentleman came down and asked the man if anyone was sitting next to him. “No,” he said, “the seat is empty.” The gentleman was shocked. He said, “This is incredible. Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sports event in the world, and not use it?”

Somberly, the man said, “Well, the seat actually belongs to me. I was supposed to come here with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super Bowl that we have not attended together since we got married more than 40 years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” replied the gentleman. “That is terrible. But couldn’t you find someone else to take the seat? Wasn’t there a friend, a relative or even a neighbor who could have come to the game with you?” The man shook his head and said, “No. All of them are at the funeral.”

This year’s football season has just begun. Therefore, many of the seats in our churches will be vacant. Some of us will be at the various games. Others will be parked in our favorite chairs in front of our television sets. Although we live in a world of advanced technology, many of us feel that we have to witness the actual kick-off rather than record the game and watch it later. Others feel that they cannot miss one second of the action.

For those of us that feel that way, I am glad that Jesus had His priorities straight when He hung on the cross and died for our sins. I’m sure He had other things that He could have been doing.

Rev. Burton Barr's Trilogy on KINDLE Now!!!