REV. JIM BEAR JACOBS

Good morning, everyone.

 

It is a distinct honor and privilege to be with you this morning, although understandably it is an honor and privilege that I don't think any of us would desire to have as the reason why we gather --
a call for justice in our city and in our nation. 

None of us, a year ago, could have imagined that we would be here... on this morning, for this occasion.

None of us could have imagined that 9 minutes and 29 seconds could be heard around the world.

None of us could have imagined that an unremarkable intersection in our city
would carry the focus of an entire nation.

And yet here we are. In the unimagined space.

Between verdicts and trials yet to come... between hope and justice... we reside here.

In 1854, one of my ancestors, Mohican leader John Quinney, was invited back to Reidsville, New York to give that city's Fourth of July address.

Now, I want you to understand the context of this. In 1854, the Mohican people were just taking up residence in a small reservation in central Wisconsin, nearly 1100 miles away in our ancestral homeland -- after having been uprooted, forcibly removed, and dispossessed of our homeland.

And a little more than one generation later, my ancestor John Quinney is invited back into his ancestral homeland to give the address for this nation's greatest civic celebration, the Fourth of July.

Now think about that.

That is the ridiculousness of colonization.

That is the audacity of supremacy... to dispossess a people of their land of their ancestors, of their home... and then, later, invite... invite someone from that people group back to celebrate the founding of this nation.

 

What they expected in Reidsville, New York, was that John Quinney would fall in line
and tout and laud all of the attributes of this great nation.

That's what they expected.

What they got was a history lesson in how these European colonizers came to possess this land.

My ancestor, my grandfather, John Quinney... took those people of Reidsville, New York, in 1854...
he took them to the woodshed.

 

And I want to read to you a little bit of the history lesson in which John Quinney gave to
the people on the Fourth of July in Reidsville, New York.

This history lesson and how this land was dispossessed by Mohican people and came into the hands of the European colonizers. Quinney says,

"Should a particular band, for purposes of hunting or fishing, for a time, leave its usual place of residence? The land was said to be abandoned and the Indian claim extinguished. To legalize and confirm titles thus acquired, laws and edicts were subsequently passed and these laws were said then, and are now called,
justice.

Oh, what a mockery to confound justice with law!"

What a mockery to confound justice with law.

My friends, like me I'm sure all of you took pause... took a breath... when the verdicts were read.
And there is an impulse to say that justice was served.

 

But understand we cannot mark justice from a single trial. We cannot mark justice from a single verdict.

We can only mark justice when the systems turn. When the systems change.

And so here we are in this liminal space, between verdict and trials yet to come.

We take a respite. We take a moment to catch our breath. 

But we know that the struggle is not over, that justice is still the goal on the horizon.

The struggle is not over. It will be difficult.

 

Our arms and legs will grow weary, and our voices may fail us... as we raise cries for justice in the streets.

But when those moments of weariness come, when we feel tired... when we feel that we cannot go on...
I want you all -- all of you -- to remember this day.

That this day -- right here, right now -- on this day, an unremarkable Wednesday morning... hundreds of us gather from all across this nation. We gather, we come together, and we come to hold space in this place.

We not only hold space. We hold each other.

 

And we envision that day -- with justice on the horizon -- we envision that day when justice is reached.

I am Jim Bear Jacobs. I am Mohican, descendant from this land, and this morning...

this is my prayer for all of us.

- Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, Reflection Leader

Healing Our City Virtual Prayer Tent

May 12, 2021

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