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By Rev. David Street and Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith
Black August is a hospitable season to engage the mission of Bread for the World as a collective and diverse Christian voice urging our nation's decisions makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
With its roots in justice for the incarcerated, Black August provides an opportune lens to address the disproportionate numbers of Pan African people today (aka Africans and the African diaspora) affected by hunger and poverty due to mass incarceration.
As Black Lives Matters grows in importance, it’s link with Black August affirms Bread’s recommitment to racial equity and ending structural racism that contributes to hunger. Together, we are moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ to advocate for a world without hunger and poverty.
Black August invites us to a time to listen, learn, and advocate anew as we consider criminal justice reforms in light of the historic and current pain of unjust policing that has contributed to structural racism.
In a previous blog post, we are reminded that Black August was started by Black prisoners who wore black wristbands during the month of August to commemorate everyone who had been unjustly incarcerated or killed by the police. Today, Black August has expanded beyond the prison walls and embraced by the Black community as a way to lift up solutions that end racial disparities in policing, incarceration, and police brutality.
According to the Sentencing Project, African Americans had a 12 percent chance of being stopped and searched by police, yet police found something illegal only 22 percent of those times. In the same research, whites were stopped at half the rate of blacks (6 percent), yet police found something illegal almost twice as often.
This month, you will hear voices and see the faces of Pan African young men and women, including millennials and Gen Z, who are deeply engaged in Bread’s mission to end hunger and poverty.
You will be invited to pray and advocate with these young leaders through our Black August social media campaign and the Pan African Young Adult Network (PAYAN) webinar series.
The social media campaign will feature young Black faith leaders and advocates making significant impact on criminal justice reform. The PAYAN webinar series will further address topics raised at Bread’s 2020 Virtual Advocacy Summit Pan African Consultation.
This year’s Black August work invites you to deepen your commitment to Bread’s mission by looking for ways to not only advocate, but also co-create and partner with communities most impacted by mass incarceration, hunger, and poverty.
Black August is more than an educational moment or trendy hashtag. It’s a time for Bread to take another step in the direction of being a partner and friend, as well as an advocate and mobilizer.
We look forward to this month and are excited to invite you to join Bread on this journey. We are moving deliberately with God’s grace and speaking boldly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Rev. David Street is Bread for the World’s deputy director of organizing. Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.
We look forward to this month and are excited to invite you to join Bread on this journey.
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