The Pilgrimage to Defeat Racism
"Race is about the American story, and about each of our own stories. Overcoming racism is more than an issue or a cause — it is also a story, which can be part of each of our stories, too. The story about race that was embedded into America at the founding of our nation was a lie; it is time to change the story and discover a new one. Understanding our own stories about race, and talking about them to one another, is absolutely essential if we are to become part of the larger pilgrimage to defeat racism in America."
— Jim Wallis in America's Original Sin

Opposition to Racism
"Our Christian faith stands fundamentally opposed to racism in all its forms, which contradict the good news of the gospel. The ultimate answer to the question of race is our identity as children of God, which we so easily forget applies to us all. . . . It's time for white Christians to be more Christian than white — which is necessary to make racial reconciliation and healing possible."
— Jim Wallis in America's Original Sin

Equality Under the Law
"We are not now, nor will we ever be a 'postracial' society. We are instead a society on a journey toward embracing our ever-greater and richer diversity, which is the American story. The path forward is the constant renewal of our nation's ideal of the equality of all citizens under the law—which makes the American promise so compelling, even though it is still so far from being fulfilled."
— Jim Wallis in America's Original Sin

Black Men in Prison
"We are currently in an era of mass incarceration and excessive punishment in which the politics of fear and anger . . . reinforce the narrative of racial different. We imprison people of color at record levels by making up new crimes, which are disproportionally enforced against those who are black or brown. We are the nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world, a phenomenon that is inexorably linked to our history of racial inequality."
— Bryan Stevenson in America's Original Sin by Jim Wallis

The Heart of Racism Is Economic
"The heart of racism was and is economic, though its roots are also deeply cultural, psychological, sexual, religious, and of course, political. Due to 246 years of brutal slavery and an additional 100 years of legal segregation and discrimination, no area of relationship between black people and white people in the United States is free from the legacy of racism."
— Jim Wallis in America's Original Sin

We Can Go Deeper
"We can go deeper to understand ourselves not only as members of one race against another but as fellow citizens with common dream for our future, hopes for our children, and commitments to better nation. In the end, we can and must shed ourselves of our racial idols and divisions that have bound and separated us, and find our dignity together as the children of God all made in the image of the One who loves us all."
— Jim Wallis in America's Original Sin

The Never-Ending Night
"Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains — whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains. . . . The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine."
— Ta-Nehisi Coates in Between the World and Me

The Challenge to Banish Racism
"Racism can well be that corrosive evil that will bring down the curtain on Western civilization. Arnold Toynbee has said that some twenty-six civilizations have risen upon the face of the earth. Almost all of them have descended into the junk heaps of destruction. The decline and fall of these civilizations, according to Toynbee, was not caused by external invasions but by internal decay. They failed to respond creatively to the challenges impinging upon them. If Western civilization does not now respond constructively to the challenge to banish racism, some future historian will have to say that a great civilization died because it lacked the soul and commitment to make justice a reality for all men."
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in The Radical King

Clinging to Hatred
"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly, is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with the pain."
— James Baldwin in Considering Hate by Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski

Efforts Toward Good Relations
"Conversations are efforts toward good relations. They are an elementary form of reciprocity. They are an exercise of our love for each other. They are the enemies of our loneliness, our doubt, our anxiety, our tendencies to abdicate. To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. If we attend with imagination and devotion to our conversations, we will find what we need; and someone among us will act — it does not matter whom — and we will survive."
— Barry Lopez in Considering Hate by Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski

Images that Cut Deep
"We have to recognize that there is a radical continuity between the killing fields of the plantations, the bodies hanging from the trees, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, and the Superdome in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina."
— Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope

The Black Underclass
"Since the end of slavery, there has always been a black underclass. What is significant now is the size of it, the social gravity of it, and the frightening and terrifying responses to it."
— Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope

Black Music
"For me the deepest existential source of coming to terms with white racism is music. In some ways, this is true for black America as a whole, from spirituals and blues through jazz, rhythm and blues, and even up to hip-hop. . . . . This rich tradition of black music is not only an artistic response to the psychic wounds and social scars of a despised people. More importantly, it enacts in dramatic forms the creativity, dignity, grace, and elegance of African Americans."
— Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope