St. Paul, Minnesota is about 1,000 miles from Birmingham, Alabama geographically. Both cities had gatherings this past weekend that, when looked at side by side, shows that perhaps more than miles separate them.
In St. Paul, police estimated between 350 and 500 people showed up at the Minnesota state fair on Saturday to support the “Black Lives Matter” march. Why pick the state fair to stage such an event? To make a point about economic disparities, of course. Organizer Rashad Turner said, “”There are going to be thousands of people, low-income people, in St. Paul who are going to smell that food, but they’re not going to be able to have any…a lot of people want to put the (Black Lives Matter) in a box and say, ‘You should focus on police brutality,’ but it’s also about the economic and social justices and how they’re interrelated.”
Turner encouraged the marchers to be peaceful; however, peace starts in the heart and comes out the mouth. According to Newsmax, the Black Lives Matter marchers chanted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” This derogatory reference to police came less than 24 hours after a Texas officer was gunned down in Houston Friday night while in uniform…while he was pumping gas.
In Birmingham, the Restoring Unity event (#NeverAgainIsNow) began with a march of anywhere from 20-30 thousand people through the Civil Rights district Saturday morning. At this time, I’ve found no national media coverage of this march, which Birmingham police had estimated numbers closer to 30,000 and said it was likely the largest march in the city since the 1963 Civil Rights marches.
Led by conservative radio commentator Glenn Beck, Bishop Jim Lowe of the Guiding Light Church, and Alveda King, niece of slain Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., the march began at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church. That church was the site of a deadly KKK attack in 1963 that killed 4 young girls.
Carrying signs that stated such things as “All Lives Matter”, “Courage”(under a photo of Frederick Douglass) and “God is the Answer”, the march moved through downtown Birmingham and crossed racial, generational and denominational barriers. Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight was there, as was his friend Chuck Norris…and yours truly.
Ending at the Legacy Arena, the march began a day of speaking, singing, and praying. It’s hard to know how to describe the arena show. It was a little bit of a history lesson as historian David Barton of Wallbuilders spoke about how the youth of the Founding Generation took their places in history to forge independence.
It was a lot of a revival…having church on a Saturday afternoon and listening to the amazing voices of the gospel choir of the Guiding Light Church, powerful messages and prayers from Bishop Lowe, Alveda King, Pastor Rafael Cruz (father of Ted Cruz), and Johnnie Moore. Moore, an author and humanitarian, is an advocate for the Christians in the Middle East who are being marked for extinction in areas being overtaken by ISIS. He told stories of people there who have been executed by the terrorist group for refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ; of women and young girls being sold as slaves, children being crucified and men burned alive in cages. He said the Christians there feel forgotten by their American brothers and sisters.
Then there was the call to action by Glenn Beck. Less than 2 weeks ago when he interviewed Johnnie Moore on his radio show, he vowed to raise a million dollars to help get some of these Christians and Yazidis into any safe country that will take them. He said a family of 5 can be sustained for one year for $25,000, giving them time to get on their feet to build a new life free from the threat of ISIS. As of Saturday, close to $3 million had been raised. He announced a new fundraising campaign called The Nazarene Fund, which will raise $10 million dollars by the end of the year in order to help these persecuted Christians get away from ISIS. He compared it to a modern day Schindler’s List, referring to Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1200 Jewish lives during WWII. Incidentally, Beck is an avid collector of historic artifacts and held up Schindler’s actual hand-written list of names of people that were saved from Nazi death camps.
Beck’s humanitarian organization Mercury One is the donation point for those who wish to help this cause.
There’s much more I could write about Saturday’s event that ended that night with the premier of “Woodlawn”, a faith-based film about the true story of a revival in Birmingham that began with a high school football team in a school on the verge of closing due to racial strife. Jon Voight, who plays Paul “Bear” Bryant in the movie, was at Restoring Unity all day, and appeared on stage with other cast members for an interview with Beck prior to the movie screening. More will be coming about that soon. More pictures and video of Restoring Unity will be posted on the Liberty Belle Blog Facebook page.