More than 55 years after she desegregated a New Orleans elementary school and captivated the nation, Ruby Bridges still processes her world through a lens of good versus evil.
“I do feel like we’re in spiritual warfare, because any of us can be good or evil,” said Bridges before leaving to catch a flight after speaking on a panel, ”Faith: An Enduring Element of Movement-Building and Social Change.” “For you to sit in a church when they’re praying and talking about God, and you get up an hour later and shoot them, nine of them? You’re evil. You’re not just White.”
Bridges joined moderator Melissa Harris-Perry (a.k.a. the busiest moderator of the week) and other activists and faith leaders for the panel, which coincided with the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia this week. Fellow panelists included “Moral Mondays” pastor and activist Rev. Dr. William Barber, United We Dream’s Greisa Martinez, NAACP Legal & Educational Fund’s Carmen Dixon, City of Soul director Rev. Broderick Greer and Union Theological Seminary’s Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins.
Harris-Perry led a wide-ranging discussion about faith-based communities’ role in racial justice movements. Each panelist hammered home how the “religious right” conservative movement should not define how people (especially the marginalized) experience faith in racial justice movements. ”Black people have always made this space for Jewish people, Latino people, [all] people to really feel included in our movements and partner with us in our liberation,” said Greer. ”Do not allow the religious right to own these narratives.”
Dixon, who organizes with Black Lives Matter’s New York City chapter, also described her view of the current movement’s sacred principles. “”Black Lives Matter is an act of worship, it’s an affirmation,” she explained. “We’re not begging people to make our lives matter, we’re saying, ‘Our lives matter to us.’”
The panel was sponsored by Union Theological Seminary and public policy organization The Raben Group.
Watch our video of Bridges’ remarks, livestreamed on our Facebook page this afternoon, below.