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Black churches slam Latino organizations silence on Trayvon Martin

The National Black Church Initiative | 11/21/2013, 3:34 p.m.
Trayvon Martin

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-American churchgoers, is mystified and shocked at the Latino community’s refusal to condemn the George Zimmerman verdict in light of its lobbying our community to support comprehensive immigration reform. We view their silence as hatred towards our community, and morally, we cannot support them in their endeavor.

This condemnation is specific to major Latino leadership, as we well know that many of our other Latino brothers and sisters supported Trayvon Martin’s family during their strife. Those leaders must be called to the carpet for their blatant disregard for our community’s strife.

The Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the NBCI, said, “We are saddened, hurt and beyond disrespected by the eloquence of their silence. If we do not hear that they have condemned the verdict within seven days of this press release, we will urge our 34,000 churches to call Congress, stating that they will not support a comprehensive immigration bill. I expected such silence from the white church, but not from someone who needs our support to secure their future in this country.”

You will not have it both ways! You will not want us to use our vast political power to grant you citizenship under a comprehensive immigration bill and then not speak to the injustice taken out on our young men across this country. How hypocritical of all major Latino organizations on this issue. You will not treat us as second-class citizens in our own country, in which you are illegal visitors. We are fighting for your dignity, yet when one of your own kill our young, you say absolutely nothing. The church is a place where healing can take place. The Latino churches did not invite the Black church to an opportunity for prayer and reconciliation. The Latino social and religious organizations, just like the white church, ran and were scared to speak powerfully against the continued injustice toward the African-American community.

The NAACP, the Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus do not speak for the Black church on this issue. We will not support a comprehensive bill as long as Latino social and religious leadership remains silent on the Martin verdict. If need be, we will join with those forces to stop that bill cold in the House of Representatives. The Latino community will not treat us with the disrespect and indifference that we already experience from too many others.

The Rev. Sheldon Williams, president of the National Black Religious Broadcasters, said, “Our 10,000 broadcasters find it hard to believe the double standard that the Latino organizations continue to exhibit to the African-American community when they need our support for comprehensive immigration bills. They will not receive our support until they speak eloquently and condemn the Trayvon Martin verdict.”