Early Sunday morning, April 22, 2018, the evil of a senseless gun violent culture rose again in our community leaving four innocent people dead and grieving families with traumatic wounds to heal. Nashville citizens Mr. Mr. Taurean Sanderlin, Mr. Joe Perez, Ms. DeEbony Groves, and Mr. Akilah DaSilva murdered at an Antioch area Waffle House are the lateness victims of this evil occurring in cities across America. If it had not been for the unintended heroic act of Mr. James Shaw, Jr., more people would have been killed. This tragic event will weigh heavy upon our hearts for years to come. As we all seek to find deeper anchors to carry the burden of sustaining the sacredness, decency and dignity of our common life and civility, it is encouraging to see an overwhelming communal commitment to re-center the core values of love and justice to fight the evil of gun violence in America.

The black religious mystic Howard Thurman reminds us that “what is against life is against God, and what is against God cannot abide.” This evil is against God, thus it will not prevail to destroy the flourishing of our common humanity. Even though the dark horror of gun violence disrupts the normalcy of daily life, we stand encouraged by the community’s resolve to support the families of the victims. We must do more than grieve and bury the dead. Our grief joins public advocacy that is building up in voices of people and victims of violence from Sandy Hook to Parkland, Florida to confront a violent gun culture with demands for change.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do here at American Baptist College along with all American citizens is learn all we can know about the root causes of the history of America’s violent. We must educate ourselves about the nature of violence in this country so we can better equip a new generation to confront this evil that seeks to destroy a sense of safety and trust in civility. With the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, the kind of uncensored education to create a new consciousness for a nonviolent existence is accessible to us. The National Memorial traces the root causes of America’s violent culture from slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow era violence to modern forms of racial terrorism, mass incarceration and links it to modern scenes of violence that happened here in Nashville a few days ago. What I have read and seen in videos so far, we can expect to experience a dive into the extreme moral insensitivity of a violent American psyche and better understand why modern forms of it continues to mutate in our culture today. I shall soon make my pilgrimage to Montgomery, and encourage all students, faculty and staff to do so.

In response to a question during a recent interview, the brainchild behind the National Memorial and Legacy Museum, Bryan Stevenson stated that “the law will be insufficient to create justice if we don’t also create a consciousness about our history and address the burden that so many Americans carry.” American Baptist College carries this burden with a commitment to education and a restless determination to discover the tools to create a non-violent culture that can change the moral
direction of the nation.