Written by the Board of the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council as a guest column for the Times Record, September 25, 2020
In 1965 in Selma, Alabama, following the police attack against civil rights protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right.” The popular paraphrase of this quotation is “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” The death that King is referring to is the loss of our integrity to the paralysis of fear. He repeatedly called on people of faith and people committed to justice to refuse to give into hatred.in hope, The Rev. Diane Hoppe Hugo, President, BAIC; The Rev. Dr. Alan Baughcum, Treasurer, BAIC; The Rev. Carolyn Eklund, Secretary, BAIC; Ms. Mary O’Brien, BAIC Executive Board
Our community of greater Brunswick (and the state of Maine) now has an opportunity to make a stand against the paralysis of fear in the face of acts of racial hatred and intimidation. The President of Bowdoin College, Clayton Rose, appeared before the Brunswick Town Council in September to make the community aware of disturbing and recent acts against people of color that have happened in Brunswick.
Just this month, a black staffer from Bowdoin was verbally accosted by a white woman outside of a business in our town. In a separate incident, a black man in our community was called the “N” word, was harassed on the streets and at his home. People of color walking the streets of our community experience threatening gestures, hateful language and intimidation. This is happening in every town and city in the nation.
As leaders of faith communities and members of the Brunswick Area Interfaith Council (BAIC) Board, we reject these acts of hate against people of color, our neighbors and members of our community. As a people of faith, we respect the dignity of all God’s people. Because we are all made in God’s image, we share equally in our common humanity. That means we strive to seek justice and the common good for all people.
We call on people of faith and everyone who is committed to “liberty and justice for all” to say “no” to racial intimidation. Standing up against hatred together creates strength in the face of fear and paralysis.
Many congregations in our area offer programs that teach racial justice and offer training on how, every day, we can act in mutual support. We urge all people and institutions of good will to join with neighborhoods, communities of faith, and non-profit agencies for justice to voice support for racial justice and against acts of hatred. In this climate of division and hatred, let us faithfully oppose evil acts by standing against them.
The Brunswick Area Interfaith Council (BAIC) has worked in past decades to help found non-profit agencies to assist with shelter, healthcare and hunger for our neediest neighbors. Recently, we have been assisting Mid Coast New Mainers Support Group to resettle asylum seekers into our area. We write today to urge the people of our community and of Maine to resist the encroaching acts of hatred on the people with whom we hold a common bond, our humanity. May silence and fear never win.