Why do I fight for justice and equity?

June 29, 2020 By: LaVanda B

Why do I fight for justice and equity?

I have been asked a lot lately “How did you get here?” “What drives you to do the work of social justice and racial equity?”

Quite frankly I was simply born.  Born to a man and woman who fought for equality as teens. In high school, my father and 18 other seniors were handpicked by the Savannah Branch of the NAACP to integrate the Savannah Public schools.  Meanwhile, my mother was among many teens who participated in sit-ins and peaceful protests demanding to be served at Savannah restaurants.  I was born just 7 months after Dr. King’s life was tragically taken, a time when the nation was still mourning the assassination of the civil rights movement’s most visible and dynamic leader.  These events obviously influenced the trajectory of my parent’s lives and I believe set the path for my own. It was not uncommon for us kids to attend rally’s, work voter registration drives, or even put notices in mailboxes for neighborhood meetings. Being involved in your community and in decisions that affect your life was not an option.

My parents raised us in a small church on a dirt road in a rural community in Savannah, Georgia.  It was a church my grandmother found when my mother and her sisters were very young, and it became our family church for 3 generations.  It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but it provided a strong foundation for my faith.  There were probably only about 5 families in the church.  Thank goodness our pastor had 13 children and they were all musical, so they were the choir.  Being a small congregation there was no place to hide.  We all had to fill various leadership roles and Sunday school was extremely intimate and educational.  It was where I learned to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit it the sick.  As a church missionary, it was grandmother’s role to ensure that members who were unable to attend church received communion.  That meant after a long day of praise, worship, and preaching we visited bedsides by the dozen.  Delivering prayer, song, and comfort along with holy communion.  She was never satisfied to simply visit our members.  She was known to pop her head in stranger’s hospital rooms and ask “Would you mind if we have prayer with you.” More often than not, they would welcome her to pray with them.

One of the songs she would sing to us before bedtime was “Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world – Red, yellow, Black and white, they are precious in His sight.” I believe that the message she wanted to convey was twofold – We were expected to love all of God’s children and to remind us as Black children that we were loved by God.  Regardless of what the world told us or how the world would make us feel, Jesus loves all the little children of the world.  And that thread of love was woven all throughout our church and our family.  So how did I get here?  I was born this way, born to a family with the courage to fight for injustice, the faith to persevere, and a standard of love.