Tag Archives: St. Landry Parish

When African American- led churches are burned to the ground, what is in question?

Gerald Herbert (AP)











This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine.

Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

Recently, three historic African American- led churches were burned to the ground in Louisiana.  Yesterday, a suspect was arrested.  He is the sheriff deputy’s son and in the neighborhood.  Before the arrest, persons feigned ignorance as to why someone would do this and what it meant.  It could be a hate crime but they would wait for more evidence.

Exhibit A: St. Mary Baptist Church

Exhibit B: Greater Union Baptist Church

Exhibit C: Mount Pleasant Baptist Church

Why else would someone burn a church?  What other list of reasons do persons have for the destruction of holy spaces frequented and led by African American people?  The burning of African American- led churches is not new and neither is the rationale.  These churches were targeted to terrorize, to stoke fear within African American communities and to maintain the lie of white supremacy.

How many times does this need to be said?  How many books and articles need to be written?  Interviews scheduled and given?  How many classes offered and taught?  How many papers written, exams taken and presentations made?  How many degrees in African and African American history earned?

How many movies and PBS specials are needed to document this truth?  How many times does this need to happen?  How many more exhibits and examples of churches burned do we need to see?  How many more Black History Month highlight reels before Americans accept the realities of race?

Our feigned disbelief and continual willingness to locate this fire starter outside of us is part of the problem.  It is why the fires spread.  The sheriff deputy’s son, he is one of us and closer than we think.  That a relative of a law enforcement official brings the past and present together is too close for comfort.

Still, what will it take for Americans to admit that churches are being burned as a sacrifice to the idol of race?  And he is not alone in his worship.  Holden Matthews is not the only member of this body of believers.  He is not the only one with a gas can in his car or a match in his hand.  No, this little light of mine