Subject: NCC Newsletter: Tulsa Race Massacre, Advocacy Actions, & Vaccine Take-a-Ways

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Tulsa Race Massacre, Advocacy Actions, & Vaccine Take-a-Ways

NCC Newsletter
May 28, 2021
Connecting With History
I have shared in this space that I studied history in college and in graduate school. I always knew I would do so and at any given moment I am reading simultaneously (and slowly) at least a dozen history books. And, yet, I am continually amazed at how much I don’t know or didn’t realize. In that vein, I plan to watch “Tulsa Burning” on the History Channel about the 1921 massacre of Black people by white mobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Many years later, I was born in Oklahoma and still have family there. My grandparents lived just outside of Tulsa from the 1950s until the 1980s. But, I never heard a word about the events of 1921. However, just two years earlier there was another massacre of Black people around Elaine, Arkansas in 1919. At that time, my grandfather, then a teenager, lived about 40 miles away in DeWitt, Arkansas.

It’s easy for White people to think of such events as ancient history to which they have no connection, but sometimes if one just stops to consider various factors: where was my family at that time? What racial attitudes did they hold? Might they have heard about these dreadful incidents? Did they discuss them with family and friends? How did it shape them and what did they tell their children about those days? I am pretty certain my grandfather, a devout racist, did not tell his sons about those massacres. I doubt he was bothered by what happened, but thanks to my grandmother and the influence of her faith and her involvement in the United Methodist Women her sons all became devoutly anti-racists and passed that heritage on to me and my siblings and our children.

I hope you will watch “Tulsa Burning” and discuss it with your family, your friends, and those in your church and community. 

Grace and peace,

Advocacy Calls for Action:
Sign the Faith Leaders Letter to Senate Leadership In Support of D.C. Statehood
Please join the letter from faith leaders to support S. 51, the Washington D.C. Admission Act, to enact D.C. Statehood and undo the injustice of disenfranchisement faced by D.C. residents. D.C.'s 700,000 residents -- a population larger than two states -- lack voting representation in Congress and the full rights of statehood, including final determination of D.C. budgets and laws. The letter will be sent to the leadership of the U.S. Senate. Please sign by June 15. For denominational and other faith organizations, please provide only the organization's name as an organizational affiliation along with the appropriate email.

Help Garner and Voice Support for HR 40
H.R. 40—the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act—is at a pivotal point in both congressional chambers. NCC calls on all our member communions and interfaith partners to take action to help pass the legislation. NCC has published our NCC position on the Reparations legislation on our site with many resources and background information to inform campaigns of support. 

Ways to voice support:

Call your representative this week. In the afterglow of Pentecost, NCC and the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, are leading a National Call-In Week for HR 40 until this Sunday, May 30. To be connected to your representative, call this number: 888-422-4555.

Sign and share the faith leader and organization sign-on letter that was co-written by NCC. 

Join the Welcome with Dignity Campaign
Dozens of organizations and advocates are joining together in a renewed commitment to build a reimagined asylum system in the U.S. as part of the new Welcome with Dignity Campaign. You are invited to take action to transform the way the United States receives and protects people forced to flee from their homes and seek safety. 

"Following decades of relentless assaults on and destruction of the U.S. asylum system, this campaign seeks to demonstrate unequivocally that it is possible to welcome asylum seekers in a safe and fair manner and that they should never be subjected to unnecessary and dangerous detention. We also acknowledge that humanely welcoming those seeking asylum requires change beyond the border."
Tulsa Race Massacre
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents, many of them deputized and even given weapons by city officials, descended on the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They shot Black people indiscriminately and burned more than 1,200 homes, hundreds of Black-owned businesses, churches, schools and a Black-owned hospital. Private aircraft also dropped turpentine bombs. Over 35 square blocks of the district, at that time the wealthiest Black community in the United States known as “Black Wall Street,” were destroyed. 

Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church is "the only standing black-owned structure on Historic Greenwood Ave from the Black Wall Street era and one of the only edifices that remain from the massacre. To this day, Historic Vernon A.M.E Church remains a visual reminder of the Massacre and the reconstruction process."

To learn more, watch “Tulsa Burning” on the History Channel when it premieres this Sunday, May 30, 2021 at 8/7c. 

Watch the documentary, "Descended from the Promised Land, The Legacy of Black Wall Street" which premiered this week and then host a screening in your community. "Through the lens of Black Wall Street descendants Byron Crenshaw, Jacqueline Blocker and Michelle Blocker, we draw a century-long thread from the Tulsa Race Massacre to the present, exploring the lingering economic, psychological and emotional impacts that have undermined the rebuilding of the once thriving community."

Human Rights Watch has produced a briefing paper and accompanying video to detail the failure by city and state authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to provide comprehensive reparations which has compounded the harms of the massacre. Find the information here: "Failed Justice 100 Years After Tulsa Race Massacre".
PC (USA) Commemorates the ‘single worst incident of racial violence in American history’
The Synod of the Sun, a network of Presbyterians from 11 Presbyteries, approximately 700+ Congregations, in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas which includes over 150,000 members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has embarked on Imagine Tulsa 21. The Imagine engagement will explore both the history and current impacts of the Tulsa race massacre. 
NCC Summer Intern Introduction
This week, Matthew Markay, a Junior at American University in Washington DC studying Sociology, started as a summer intern. A native of northern New Jersey, Matthew has a strong passion for social justice and believes faith is instrumental in justice work. At American University, Matthew has played an active role in anti-racist initiatives, facilitating dialogues on race as a teaching assistant for first-year students. As the son of two pastors, Matthew was raised in both the United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church traditions. 

He is thrilled to be working as a summer intern for the National Council of Churches and will be assisting on a wide range of projects, including the NCC Korea Summit, as well as representing NCC at advocacy meetings and launching a new Instagram account. Welcome to Matt!
COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Get the Vaccine, and Remember Those Who Cannot
Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, NCC Associate General Secretary, has written a reflection on remembering those who cannot get vaccinated. 

"The new CDC guidelines for wearing masks reflect the good news in the war against Covid-19, namely that vaccines are paving the way back to normal life. The fact that the fully vaccinated can by and large stop wearing masks in outdoor and most indoor settings is indeed a welcome development…[T]he prospect of normality seems to be a strong incentive for people to continue getting the vaccines. But one other incentive should be enough: the health and well-being of one another. The more of us who get vaccines and thus acquire immunity, the safer we all are.

And it is this incentive that many among us rely on the most. Indeed, cancer patients and others, whose illnesses and/or treatments have left them with compromised immune systems, still depend on the good graces of others. And so, like before the vaccines became widely available, many relatives, friends, and neighbors still have to take all the earlier precautions not to be exposed to the virus, namely wearing masks, physical distancing, and washing hands…[T]here is one other thing they must do, along with everyone else, and that is to trust that everyone else will do the right thing. This will be difficult, as there is no guarantee that all the mask-less people with whom we come into contact every day will have had their vaccines. Still, until we reach herd immunity, what choice do we all have?

As more and more people get vaccinated, everyone is less and less vulnerable to the disease. So my plea is that as many people who can do so get a vaccine – not just your life, but the lives of countless others, may depend on it."  

Faiths4Vaccines National Summit Recording Now Available
The Faiths4Vaccines National Summit on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 brought together faith leaders, faith-based organizations, medical/scientific professionals, and government to ensure equitable vaccine access and education.
Read the Religion News Service article on the event, "Health experts, faith leaders and White House target the ‘movable’ on vaccines" which includes coverage of the message from Bishop Teresa Jefferson Snorton, NCC Governing Board Vice Chair and Presiding Bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
Take-a-ways from the Faiths4Vaccines Summit
What Your Church Needs to Know to End the Pandemic

(We encourage copying and sharing this information within your denomination and local congregation.)

Many of the Unvaccinated Do Not Know How to Find a Vaccine – Sharing simple information on where to find vaccines is essential right now.
By website:
By text: send zipcode to GETVAX (for English) or VACUNA (for Spanish)
By phone: 1-800-232-0233

Some Who Mistrust the Medical System, Trust the Church – Churches can easily extend their food, clothing, childcare, and housing ministries to incorporate a vaccination effort in these simple ways:
• Continually educate through social media, newsletters, sermons, homilies.
• Share vaccination stories, photos, quotes from clergy and church staff. Also, share stories from parishioners who were hesitant but got vaccinated or have compromised immune systems or are unable to get vaccinated but are encouraging others to do so.

• Have conversations and listen to those who are not yet vaccinated to hear their reasons. Be trained or research how to effectively have these conversations.
• Call or text all members of the church to make sure they are vaccinated.
• Canvas the local neighborhood around the church with vaccination information.
• Drive people to get vaccinated or make sure they know they can get a free ride to a vaccination site from Uber and Lyft until July 4.
• Investigate the requirements and then contact local health officials or pharmacy providers to offer the church as a vaccination site, including after a church service.
• Join the White House COVID-19 Community Corps for more information and volunteer during the upcoming Month of Action from June 4 until July 4 by community canvassing, phone banking, and texting to get people vaccinated.

Disinformation is being targeted at disenfranchised communities – Two thirds of the unvaccinated believe the myths that are being shared. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins emphasizes that we have not seen any of the side effects that are rumored to exist. There is no evidence of infertility and the vaccines are not harmful for pregnant women. There are no tracking devices in the vaccines. The vast majority of clergy have been vaccinated along with doctors with none of these side effects.

The vaccines won’t work for 5% of our community – The vaccines don’t work for patients who are on chemotherapy for cancer or who are on suppressants for organ transplant so we must get vaccinated because they cannot. Getting vaccinated to save their lives is the ultimate way to love your neighbor.

There are ‘rural pharmacy deserts’ without vaccination sites – Churches can fill this void. As Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner said, “Go right to the people like Jesus did.” Research and find mobile vaccination resources which are being used to reach underserved, high-risk groups, essential workers, and rural communities. These efforts are coordinated by public health departments in indoor or outdoor settings, with support from local public health clinics, health care providers, pharmacies, community and faith-based organizations, employers, and private-sector vaccinators.

IAMSCU Declaration on Global Vaccine Equity 
The International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges, and Universities (IAMSCU) issued a Declaration on Global Vaccine Equity on May 17, 2021. The IAMSCU Declaration reaffirms the principles of Wesleyan and Methodist education, urges governments and businesses to support vaccination efforts globally, promotes vaccination equity among its member institutions, and puts into practice the teachings and recommendations of public health, educational, and church leaders. 
Faith Leaders To Watch in 2021
The Center for American Progress’ Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative has identified 21 of the many faith leaders who are instrumental in enacting progressive change. The list includes Shantha Ready Alonso, who worked for the National Council of Churches from 2008-2013 leading young adult, anti-poverty, and eco-justice ministries and received NCC's J. Irwin Miller Award for Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership last year. 

Catherine Orsborn, outgoing executive director of Shoulder-to-Shoulder, and Nina Fernando, incoming executive director of Shoulder-to-Shoulder, were also recognized with this honor. NCC is one of the founding organizations of Shoulder-to-Shoulder and has had representation on the executive committee since its founding with the mission to combat anti-Muslim sentiment.  
From our Partners:
Kindle and Connect: An Interfaith Gathering of Women Leaders
Members of the NCC Jewish-Christian Dialogue have initiated this conference, "Kindle and Connect: An Interfaith Gathering of Women Leaders" to be held on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 from 12 noon until 4:30 pm ET.

This virtual half-day gathering of women leaders in religious and non-religious communities across the continent will provide the opportunity for clergy and lay leaders to meet other women doing incredible leadership work in their communities, learn about different faith and non-faith traditions, and be inspired in their own work. The goals for the conference is that everyone will leave having learned something, met someone, and taken something away from their time together. Highlights include keynote speaker, Diana Eck of the Pluralism Project at Harvard, a multifaith panel, and several breakout options, so that attendees can learn in smaller groups based on affinity as well as around topics of interest. 
Social Security Info Designed for Easy Sharing within Congregations 
Many people never take advantage of the Social Security benefits to which they are entitled. Churches are encouraged to tell their members, and the people helped through their service programs, that financial help may be available, and how they can get that help from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA website contains information for faith-based and community groups with a toolkit specifically for churches that has pre-written social media posts and newsletter articles that can be used. 

The toolkit highlights the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides monthly cash payments to people with limited income and resources. It also explains that SSI provides eligibility for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and other benefits, and gives details about how to apply for SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. A person who worked long enough may also qualify to receive Social Security disability or retirement benefits as well as SSI.

Job Listings
Co-Director of the Alliance of Baptists - The position description highlights strategic leadership, relationship building, public witness & advocacy, and fundraising. The co-director is tasked with developing and nurturing relationships with ecumenical and interfaith partners of the Alliance and representing the Alliance in such boards/committees as the National Council of Churches and serving as the Alliance liaison for advocacy and justice issues, working with volunteer representatives to address current issues and advancing Alliance priorities related to LGBTQAI+ and racial justice. The position will remain open until filled. Full description.

Legislative Associate (Middle East and immigration policy) at Mennonite Central Committee -This full-time position will lead advocacy efforts on U.S. policy with regard to the Middle East and immigration, including policies relating to uprootedness, militarization, criminalization, racism, antisemitism and the unethical detention of adults and children. (Current areas of focus include Palestine/Israel, Syria and U.S. immigration policies.) The position includes significant speaking, writing, research, analysis, and networking responsibilities and may include mentoring interns. The position is based in Washington, D.C., and will report to the director of National Advocacy and Program. Full description. 

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice is hiring two full-time, permanent positions:a Content and Editorial Manager and a Database Administrator. Candidates will be screened on a rolling basis and should be contacted by end of June to learn the status of their process.

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