This Week on American Black Journal:

Paving the way for today: How the Black Church supported the Civil Rights Movement

Sixty years ago this month, 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were pivotal in orchestrating the monumental March on Washington, which attracted widespread attention as a key event in the fight for civil rights and highlighting religious organizations’ role in the Civil Rights Movement.  

As we continue our “Black Church in Detroit” series, “American Black Journal” delves into the contemporary significance of civil rights, the impact of the march, and the current state of civil rights. Rev. Charles Williams II, senior pastor of Historic King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church and a distinguished figure in the Black church and civil rights arenas, shares his perspectives with host Stephen Henderson on the legacy of the 1963 March on Washington and the present-day state of civil rights advocacy.  

Plus, Rev. Williams underscores the role of the Black church in the ongoing struggle for democracy, social justice and equality, and talks about the issues that are still negatively impacting African Americans today, such as voting rights and police brutality. 

Detroit religious leaders discuss the Black Church’s continuing role in the Civil Rights Movement

Two months before the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom was the largest civil rights demonstration in history at the time, organized by prominent religious and civil rights leaders Rev. C.L. Franklin and Rev. Albert Cleage, Jr. and others.  

The march traveled down Woodward Avenue with at least 125,000 people in attendance, and it featured Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering an early version of his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech at Cobo Arena. On Aug. 28 that same year, he would deliver the iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. 

Earlier this year, American Black Journal teamed up with BridgeDetroit for a virtual town hall commemorating the 60th anniversary of these two historic events in the Civil Rights Movement. Two Black church leaders were among the panelists. “American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson talked with New Destiny Christian Fellowship’s Rev. Horace Sheffield III, CEO of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations (DABO), and Hopewell Church’s Senior Pastor, Rev. Kenneth Pierce II, 1st Vice President of the Detroit Branch NAACP 

They talk about Sheffield’s father, community and labor leader Horace Sheffield Jr., and his significant role in the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom. The younger Sheffield reflects on how exposure to the Civil Rights Movement influenced his own life as a social activist. Plus, Rev. Pierce talks about the next generation of African American civil rights leaders. 

RELATED: Watch the full Detroit Walk to Freedom 60th Anniversary town hall livestream here

Detroit’s Church of the Messiah promotes youth leadership during ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day

Recognizing the pivotal role that celebrating youth plays in fostering a generation of positive and productive future leaders, cities like Detroit are coming together to honor the potential and achievements of young individuals. From grassroots initiatives to city-wide events, like ARISE Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day, the spotlight on youth accomplishments not only instills confidence and empowerment but also paves the way for a brighter tomorrow.  

The Church of the Messiah in Islandview hosted an event during this year’s 17th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day on Aug. 5 to promote peace and highlight the diligent work of the youth in Detroit. Contributor Daijah Moss talked with youth leaders from the Peace & Prosperity Youth Action Movement 

Moss also talks with Church of the Messiah Pastor Barry Randolph, One Love Global Detroit Director of Operations Ragine Head, and other community activists about their vision and strategies for positive youth development, community unity, peace within the city of Detroit, and youth activism.

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.