These are dark times for racial relations in America. The systematic racism that has been oppressing African-Americans for centuries is now being thrust wide out into the open. From Ferguson to Baltimore to the horrific shooting in Charleston, crimes against black Americans are finally being covered and discussed as part of a national conversation. Unfortunately, there have been new developments that will escalate the debate and further motivate both sides- both the righteous anger of the black community and the determination of racist Americans to discriminate.
Since the brutal murders of nine churchgoers at the Emmanuel AME Church, six different historically black churches in the South have mysteriously caught fire. The most recent blaze occurred at the Mount Zion AME Church in South Carolina, but others have taken place in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Three of the fires have been confirmed as arson; the rest are still under investigation.
Here are the names of the Churches:
College Seventh-Day Aventist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee
God’s Power Church of Christ, Macon, Georgia
Briar Creek Road Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC
Glover Grove, Warrenville South Carolina
Fruitland Presbyterian Church, Gibson County, Tennessee
Mount Zion AME, Greeleyville, South Carolina
This latest burning is particularly painful, as it’s not the first time the church has been engulfed in hateful flames- the Ku Klux Klan destroyed it in 1995. The burnings are particularly ominous as the KKK plans to burn a cross in defense of the Confederate flag, and racists across America rise up in defense of their bigoted heritage. The AME Churches are powerful symbols of black resistance to slavery and the attacks on them today are attacks on the freedom of African-Americans in our nation. “The single most suspicious thing about these fires is that they came so close together and so hard on the heels of attacks on the Confederate battle flag…That is a revered symbol for the radical right” says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Justice needs to be served in the investigation of these attacks.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.