I’ve been up since 3AM thinking about today’s walk. Today makes 8 days since I left the Center for Civil & Human Rights and started walking to the Lorraine Motel.
Yesterday, I crossed the state line.
Although a huge accomplishment, it has come with both blessing and challenges as I walk through small towns.
For instance, yesterday I was walking with my friends and had three experiences that made my flesh crawl and eyes water.
The first experience was when a young guy threatened to hit my friend and I.
Harvey and I were walking on the side of the road with a good shoulder between us and the actual road. We thought we were safe because we were not in the road.
We were feeling good, and then I saw a car coming at us. Yes. A car intentionally coming at us.
The driver was not texting and driving, and he was not distracted. I know this because he looked me dead in my eyes as he pointed the moving vehicle towards us.
As he got closer, at the last minute he swerved the car and flipped us the finger and sped off.
What would make this guy do that? Racism? Hate? I don’t know but it made me feel unwanted as I walked through a city where people were looking at us strange and dealing with tons of poverty.
As soon as we got past that incident, we encountered another incident.
I’ll never forget 10 minutes later two guys in a red pick up truck (with a confederate flag on the bumper) pulled up beside Harvey and I and stared us down and pulled off fast and yelled out the window, “Be safe out here.”
After the second incident, I then noticed I wasn’t wanted in the city.
But, I continued to walk. Why? Because although I was being treated wrong I still saw their poverty. I saw that many of people that were being mean towards us also were in poverty.
I had a moment where I wanted to play it safe and say it isn’t worth it, but then I thought…
“I’m walking for people that may be poor but hate the color of my skin.”
It was at that moment that God gave me the courage to continue walking towards the AL state line.
Jesus’ words yet again challenged me to love in spite of the hatred.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”
—Matthew 5:44 NKJV
Although I wanted to get angry, love wouldn’t allow me to do it.
I thought about King’s non-violent approach to solving issues. Although King’s words were radical at moments he also expressed genuine love to all.
In fact, he understood that love is the strongest force when he said in his book Strength to Love, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
After having all those glorious thoughts I was given yet another experience to test my heart to see if I meant it.
Almost three miles from the state border, another pick up truck pulled up beside us, and rolled down the window and stared us down.
We thought they were going to ask us if we needed a ride, but they didn’t.
They backed their truck up (screeching the tires) and sat there looking at us roaring their engine. Ali (a spot car driver) was close and we hopped into the car until they left.
Afterwards, we got out and continued to walk.
Each encounter felt like hate, racism, and anger.
Thinking about the depths of what I felt made me refrain from sharing on social media until I gathered my thoughts.
This morning, as I write this some people will not like it but others will understand what experiences like those do to an African American in this country.
I don’t like racism. It’s sin and shouldn’t exist. But, it does exist and we have to work to eradicate it altogether. We must do it together and not blame each other!
Although I’d love to get angry and stop the march because of those experiences my passion won’t allow me to do that.
Not only am I marching for the poor, I’m also marching for the poverty stricken that may not like the color of my skin.
Why? Because that’s what God has called me to do—love regardless.