Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: MARCH 27, 1961
Tougaloo Nine and Jackson State Protest
Tougaloo College is a private Historically Black College in Jackson, Mississippi. The Tougaloo 9 (Meredith Anding, Samuel Bradford, Alfred Cook, Geraldine Edwards, Janice Jackson, Joseph Jackson, Albert Lassiter, Evelyn Pierce, and Ethel Sawyer) staged the first sit-in of a public institution in Mississippi, at the Jackson Public Library on March 27th, 1961. After careful planning and training, these nine students attempted to use the white-only Jackson public library on March 27. They sat quietly at different tables reading books that were not available in the “colored” library. When the nine refused to leave, they were arrested for “disturbing the peace.” The nine students were arrested and charged with breaching the peace, sentenced to a year of probation, and fined $100 each. The Tougaloo nine were all members of the college’s NAACP chapter.
Tougaloo President Daniel Beittel—who was white—refused to expel the 9 student protesters, despite threats of retaliation against Tougaloo and himself from members of the local community. Later that day, while the Tougaloo Nine sat in jail, Jackson State University students mobilized to stand in solidarity with the Tougaloo 9. Led by students like Dorie and Joyce Ladner (former interim president of Howard University), Jackson St. students organized a prayer vigil in support of the Tougaloo 9. Hundreds of people attended the prayer vigil, which was ultimately broken up by Jackson State President Jacob Reddix and a squad of police officers. Three students, Joyce and Dorie Ladner and student President Walter Williams, were all expelled for their leadership of the prayer vigil in support of the Tougaloo Nine.
The following day, Jackson State students boycotted class, held rallies, and marched towards the jail where the Tougaloo Nine were being arraigned. The Jackson State students were attacked by police wielding billy clubs, dispensing tear gas, and deploying dogs. A few blocks away several thousand white marchers in Confederate uniforms were carrying rebel battle flags to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mississippi’s secession from the union in 1861. Outside of the courtroom that the Tougaloo 9 were awaiting trial in, a small crowd of Black supporters who were unable to fit in the cramped “colored” section of the courtroom gathered. The cops attack these bystanders with clubs and dogs. That night, more than 1,000 people attended a rally in support of the 9.
Myrlie Evers later spoke about the impact of the Tougaloo Nine by stating, “The change of tide in Mississippi began with the Tougaloo Nine and the library sit-in.”
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: LUKE 6:20-26
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day27
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: Against False Peace (Kenji Kuramitsu, 2016)
grant that we through the strength of your divine hand
might protect and serve one another—make all forms of
hatreds cease, unmask all systems
of corruption and power,
drive out all fears and prejudices in our day.
You are as near as our breath
and as close to us as the contours
of our hearts and minds.
May your presence be a balm to those
who are suffering and a bright flame
to those who are causing injury.
Rupture the status quo of perennial
violence that infects our land,
and teach us through your divine Word
to reject the lies of any false peace
in favor of the presence of your dangerous justice.
-From A Booklet of Uncommon Prayer: Collects for the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and Beyond