At a talk at Fordham, Father Michael Pfleger, Ph.D., described going to a mostly white, Catholic neighborhood in Chicago recently with a group of African Americans from St. Sabina’s parish on the city’s mostly black South Side. The group was there peacefully to demand information on the killing of a young black man by an off-duty police officer.
Father Pfleger’s South Side contingent of 30 people was greeted by nearly 700 area residents, many of whom are city workers, particularly police. The residents threatened the South Side parishioners with violence and death threats and considered him—a white Catholic—as a traitor, he said.
Such racially charged demonstrations will become more prevalent in the coming years, he warned, and it will require unity among like-minded activists seeking social justice for all races.
“Dr. Martin Luther King said that the moment that we become just a black organization, we lose,” said Father Pfleger, delivering the Graduate School of Education’s Centennial Lecture on Dec. 5 in impassioned tones. “We must be with Muslims, Christians and Jews, with white and with brown and with black. We must show that there’s a unity we have that is more powerful than the unity of those against us. He was right.”
He said that with hate speech and white nationalism on the rise, efforts to unite have not been this difficult since the 1950s and 1960s.
“If we connect with each other, I have no question that we can turn this thing around,” he added. “I’m a Christian, so I’m a prisoner of hope. It’s not if we can; it’s if we want to.”
Father Pfleger’s talk, titled “America Needs Game Changers,” honored the legacy of Fordham professor Barbara L. Jackson, Ed.D., whom GSE Dean Virginia Roach, Ed.D., called “one of the first African-American female leaders in a system of education that didn’t largely recognize African-American leaders nor female leaders.”
Read the full post and listen to Father Pfleger’s lecture at Fordham News.