The long struggle to achieve justice, freedom, and peace includes confronting difficult aspects of our past.
At Noon on April 4, Calvary Episcopal Church held a service of “Remembrance and Reconciliation,” in the church, after which Calvary, Rhodes College, and the National Park Service unveiled a historic marker at the site of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s antebellum slave mart. These events were intended to remember the names of those who were sold at the site, to respect the dignity of their humanity, and to facilitate the process of reconciliation and healing in our community and our country.
Between 1854 and 1860, slave traders bought and sold thousands of enslaved people at 87 Adams Street, between Second and Third, just east of an alley behind Calvary Episcopal Church.
Acknowledging the injustice and oppression that occurred on property now owned by the church helps to fulfill both our civic and religious obligations. It is a way of helping to bring about the “more perfect Union” described by the American founders and the “beloved community” envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most important, it is a tiny step toward fulfilling our duty as Christians to help bring about the Kingdom of God.
In 1968, Dr. King came to Memphis to show solidarity with striking sanitation workers, who held signs that said, “I am a Man.” Fifty years later, we stand with the sanitation workers, the enslaved sold behind Calvary Church, and the forgotten men and women in every generation who have aspired to claim their humanity as children of God.