The Black Experience in America

The Black Experience in America

David Bailey

David Bailey

Executive Director, Arrabon

Todd Deatherage

Todd Deatherage

Executive Director, Telos Group

The thorny, intense, and personal dimensions of the subject of race and racial injustice make it all the more crucial to begin with the Way of Jesus. Can we pursue Biblical wisdom first, and then equip ourselves with a nuanced understanding of history, culture, and the ways of the world? As we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, how might we discern what is good and pleasing to God in our stewardship of money, power, and relationships?

We began our journey to better understand the Black experience in America in New Orleans, one of the primary landing spots for enslaved people forced across the Atlantic Ocean. Here we stepped back in time to imagine life on a sugarcane plantation as an enslaved person. We also explored the rich cultural and societal contributions that Blacks have made over the centuries. Then we traveled by bus to Selma and walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a site of historical importance to the civil rights movement. Finally, we concluded in Montgomery with a visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, remembering the individuals killed by racialized mob lynchings.

Throughout our trip, we met with a diverse collection of local nonprofit executives, philanthropists, artists, and civic leaders. We ate scrumptious Southern meals, took in the local arts scene, and bonded over the personal stories of our own experiences with race, inequality, and belonging.

Our guides on this trip were two old friends of The Gathering: David Bailey of Arrabon and Todd Deatherage of the Telos Group. Together, we designed this Exploration as a continuation of The Gathering's attempt to place our nation's conflicts over racism and injustice in a historical, cultural, and Biblical context. We took an approach that adheres to our community's values. Gentleness over bombast. Empathy over arrogance. Grace alongside truth. Above all, love.

David and Todd each lead ministries that foster reconciling and peacemaking communities. They have extensive experience facilitating an open dialogue, where everyone is invited to listen, share, and learn from one another and across our differences.

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