2015: The Year of #BlackLivesMatter

A major, ongoing 2015 news story in the United States was the growing stature and centrality of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The social movement began with a social media hashtag in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin. In the final days of 2014 after unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Seventh-day Adventist leaders and lay members spoke out. In 2015, the movement crescendoed with unrest in Baltimore and the #BlackLivesMatter movement’s inroads into the 2016 presidential election cycle.

The website BlackLivesMatter.com describes the movement as a “chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life.” The movement seeks to expand America’s conversation about state violence “to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.”

The killing of black Americans by (predominantly) white police officers with little or no repercussions for excessive use of force against black citizens has been at the heart of the movement, but other issues have played a part: poverty, mass incarceration, and a culture that perpetually treats whiteness as normative and of higher value are among the societal problems the movement works to end.

In December of 2014, Adventist students at Oakwood University and Andrews University marched and held demonstrations in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Oakwood University President Dr. Leslie Pollard issued a statement and tweeted pictures from Oakwood’s events.

Adventists from the Allegheny West Conference met at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio for a day of prayer led by Pastor John T. Boston II of the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church and Allegheny West pastors from Columbus. Evangelist/Pastor Marquis Johns of the Metropolitan Adventist Church in Hyattsville, Maryland was a guest speaker at the event.

North American Division President Daniel R. Jackson issued a call for justice after the death of Trayvon Martin, and a statement embracing the right to speak out and call for change after the non-indictments of the officers responsible for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Jackson said in the latter statement,

“It is time for our society to engage in open, honest, civil, and productive conversation about the rights and equality of every member of our community. We pray that the tragedy of these two deaths will bring about much needed change and address the pain that many ethnic groups are facing in this country. We pray that awareness will lead to a two-way conversation that will lead to healing. We pray that those on either side of this conversation will speak with peace, love, and grace. We pray for the day when all of God’s children treat each other without suspicion, bias, and hatred.”

Early in 2015, the Allegheny East Conference of Seventh-day Adventists held a series of recorded conversations asking the question of whether Regional Conferences still matter. The events followed a sermon by Pastor Dwight K. Nelson on MLK weekend, which generated a petition aimed at ending conferences presumably drawn up along racial lines. Benjamin Baker participated in one of the Allegheny East video conversations, discussing the history of Adventist race relations.

As the 2016 presidential race heated up this year, the Black LIves Matter movement became a flashpoint in the discourse on both sides of the political aisle.

Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley angered many by using the phrase “all lives matter” while discussing police violence against African Americans with liberal demonstrators. O’Malley apologized soon thereafter, saying “I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue."

Since then, “all lives matter” has become a response that has been thrown back at the Black Lives Matter Movement, particularly by supporters of Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Dr. Ben Carson, the one Seventh-day Adventist to have become a household name in 2015, has been critical of the Black Lives Matter Movement, despite his being the only black candidate for president in the 2016 election. Dr. Carson wrote an op-ed published in USA Today, in which he suggested that the movement is misguided in focusing on police violence.

Instead, Carson blamed America’s public schools, its entertainment industry, the U.S. Government’s “War on Poverty,” social safety programs promoted by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party’s ignoring black people as the reasons for the problems black Americans face.

Carson said that pitting the idea that black lives matter against the idea that all lives matter is an example of political correctness gone amok. Speaking to Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, Carson said “Of course all lives matter, and all lives includes black lives.”

This week, a cartoon circulated on social media that demonstrated the problem inherent in the retort all lives matter.

“Well, I believe all lives matter,” said one character to the other. “We should be equally concerned at all times about everything.” In the next frame, that character is seen pouring water onto a house that is fine while the house next to it is engulfed in flame. “All houses matter,” the character exclaims.

With everyone from President Obama to Dr. Carson to the president of the North American Division weighing in, #BlackLivesMatter has been a key story this year, and to quote the holiday song, it doesn’t show signs of stopping.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7261
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Forty seven years ago—February 10, 1969—federal district judge Richard B. Austin issued a ruling aimed squarely at a persistent Chicago problem. “Existing patterns of racial segregation must be reversed if there is to be a chance of averting the desperately intensifying division of whites and Negroes in Chicago,” Austin wrote. The nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal,” the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders chaired by Illinois governor Otto Kerner, the commission called for sustained efforts to end segregation.
The fact that for many black lives don’t matter is not confined to Chicago but has become a tragic reality in many of our major cities. Our church needs to unify and work together to end discrimination because of color or gender.

Blacks in certain conferences, whites in others is the norm in certain areas of the eastern part of the US. . As Pastor Dwight Nelson and several courageous change agents at Andrews University have recently reminded us, they have called for an end to regional conferences, an end to separation of the races in our church, and end to segregated work and administrative imbalance.

A common assertion about segregation is that it’s merely an expression of group preferences: black neighborhoods are overwhelmingly black because that’s the way blacks want it—segregation results from “innocent private decisions,” as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas put it in a 2007 school desegregation case. “The people opposed to desegregation have always said that, but that’s not what blacks say in opinion polls,” Massey says. “They much prefer to live in an integrated neighborhood, and have much more tolerance for different [racial] configurations of neighborhoods than whites do. Whites are the group that prefer substantially own-group neighborhoods.”

“Black Lives Matter” to God and to in everyone in our church. A change in our policy eliminating the segregated regional work and conferences is long overdue. Segregation didn’t happen by accident, and integration doesn’t happen by accident. It (integration) can be done, but the Adventist church really has to plan to do it. We have to make it a goal.

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I’m so tired of these divisive movements. As has been said so often: “all lives matter.” But some seem to matter more than others, and the BLM movement ignores Planned Parenthood’s veneration of its racist founder (while demanding the removal of Confederate flags and statues of Confederate soldiers), who founded the organization for the purpose aborting as many Black babies as possible in the hopes of decreasing the Black population. Yes, Virginia, there is a Double Standard.

And of course, there is little mention of all the Black on Black crime in large cities such as Chicago. And if a Black officer kills a white person, it receives little press.

I do not deny that there is racism in the world, but certain special interest groups seem to delight in exaggerating the problem, thus hampering efforts to achieve racial harmony.


To say “the killing of black Americans by white officers with little or no repercussions” is almost reckless. Each of these current headline cases are unique. In many cases, the black was acting in wanton disregard of authority and life in the first place and put the officer on the defensive. Many had a long, violent record. Some even grabbed at the officers’ weapon. Violently resisting arrest could very well get you killed no matter what color you are.

When you erode the right of officers to do whatever means necessary to protect themselves when their lives are in danger, you move towards anarchy.

When the actions of an officer are out of line, give them maximum punishment. One case at a time. But saying “white officers are out to kill unarmed black men” is not helping solve anything, it only stirs up more hatred, which ends up endangering our noble, and admirable law enforcement men and women.

When are we going to see a nice article on Spectrum about how tens of thousands of good and upright colorblind white police officers are risking their lives for the neighborhoods they serve and protect.

What would it be if they weren’t willing???


While I don’t possess a shred of racism in my soul, I find the BLM movement to be a racially divisive group of radicals peddling fear, hatred and propaganda. They disrupt political rallies and bring out the basest of black antagonism and foster the very racism they decry. Martin Luther King would decry such activsm. BLM has done nothing but embolden thugs of all colors to flaunt the law and provoke violence against them.


ha, ha…that’s the funniest video i’ve seen in a long time…there’s a touch of truth in it…

Thanks for all these, for the most part, remarkably obtuse responses.

I find it stunning that white people have so much information about what motivates Black people, and what our subjective interactions with law enforcement are like. I’m amazed that these white people, from their typically racially-isolated neighborhoods and lives, can suss out what correct, life-giving remedies actually work for Black people. By this, I mean ones that would compensate for centuries of gross white mistreatment and brutality; a history without parallel in the history of the world.

I hope that I’m wrong, and all of you, offering up your tired panaceas and analyses, are correct. If you’re correct, that means these problems are relatively easy to fix, and all we need is for “divisive” movements, like Black Lives Matter, to stop with the belly-aching.

I hope you’re right. I hope your solutions have been cogently molded from the experiences of Black people, and not from your own white thinking, stuffed with and compounded by the nonsense your white friends, newspapers, and TV shows say.

I hope you’re right. Because, if you are, as I say, this moment should blow over. That is, the problem isn’t how law enforcement acts in a racist country; one historically, economically organized around taking people captive, raping them, and working them to death while pretending they are animals; this, as a legacy. The issue is miscreants grabbing for guns. (I’ll remember that the next time a cop points his Glock in my face for the crime of sitting with my friend, in his car, in front of my home, while my wife watches from our bedroom window in muted horror.)

No, I hope you’re right. Because, if this is one of those few times in your life that you’ve been wrong about anything, the issue is not hoodlums refusing to be arrested. It may, instead, be a deeply-nauseating, white soul rot. By this, I mean one akin to the kind that the Bible says is the heritage of each man, and that each person little sees, themselves, in themselves. But maybe God’s wrong about that, too, and you’re right.

Let’s think this over. Also, I see you guys like videos. Here’s one. I find it confusing. Would someone tell me how kids as young as these keep getting these baleful, crazy ideas?


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