Bishop Garland Hunt: 1619 slavery anniversary – Here's the way forward for us all

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We all know the devastating statistics about fatherlessness in our nation, and the resulting impact on children raised in single-parent homes. And how it disproportionately affects the African-American community.

Only 30 percent of black children age two live with both married biological parents. In 2012, in comparison, 75 percent of white two-year-olds lived with both biological parents…meaning that 70 percent of young black children live in a single-parent structure.

As a result, the majority of black children and especially young black males are subjected to imposed deficits which are witnessed by almost every outcome we can measure: education attainment, income, productivity, wealth, health, mental health, longevity and especially the capacity to marry and raise their children well.


I believe we cannot overlook as the root cause of fatherlessness in the black community the impact of slavery that was introduced to this nation 400 years ago.

The effects have been catastrophic. Since the beginning of slavery in America, Jamestown 1619, this part of our nation’s history has impacted a large segment of its population in a very detrimental way – namely the black community

Blacks were captured involuntarily throughout the black diaspora. The slave trade was devastating to the black family.

Slavery ripped fathers from homes, destroyed families, minimized men as property, dehumanized women and turned them into sex objects. It taught young children to fear anyone of the white race.

Since the initiation of slavery in our country, the cry for justice has been echoing from generation to generation.

It is evident that the consequences of slavery have devastated a race of people. The only answer is for our country, particularly led by the Church, to acknowledge the sin, repent to God, and commit to restoration and healing. Generations later there’s still a cry for justice.

So let’s take a deeper look at justice. It means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status. Anyone who does the same wrong should be given the same penalty. The Hebrew word for justice is "mishpat" which is used more than 200 times in the Old Testament. Mishpat is giving people what they are due, whether punishment or protection or care.

One of the most recognized legal symbols of American justice is Lady Justice. Most commonly portrayed in the U.S. as a blindfolded woman carrying a sword and a set of scales, she symbolizes the fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, greed, prejudice, or favor.

The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of money, wealth, power, or identity; blind justice and impartiality.

In her left hand, Lady Justice holds balance scales, which represent the weighing of evidence. When taken with the blindfold, the symbolism is that evidence must be weighed on its own merit.

In her right hand, Lady Justice is seen to have a sword that faces downwards. This sword represents punishment. This sword is held below the scales to show that evidence and the court are always held before punishment.

Our sense of justice is instilled in us by our Creator God. He is loving, kind, merciful and righteous. In Psalm 89:14 it says, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you". This is a biblical mandate! Biblical Justice is compassion for the poor and the powerless and cares for the vulnerable. Biblical justice is the enactment of God’s nature.


In order for true justice to exist, it must coexist with righteousness. God will not hear our cries without the standard of righteousness. This means confronting evil and making right that which is wrong.

As we look to define what is "right" in scripture, it is clear that God has called us to uphold justice. We are called to confront evil, to care for the fatherless, the orphan and to make right that which is wrong.


So I call all Americans – and especially the Church – to join me in exploring how we can deliver justice and righteousness to the black community as we pause this August to reflect on the impact of slavery in the U.S. upon its 400th anniversary.

Let’s commit to helping to restore families and bring equal opportunity for education and jobs, and see that “Mishpat” is delivered blindly and fairly.

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