Mary Coleman: The one-year anniversary of Charlottesville


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, August 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Those lyrics were written and sung by Mary Coleman’s son Michael after the violence in Charlottesville one year ago. She’s here now with some thoughts.

MARY COLEMAN, COMMENTATOR: Last summer, two of my children were married here in Virginia. My son Michael married Hannah under sunny skies and a Blue Ridge Mountain backdrop. Six weeks later, my daughter Sara married Ryan inside a chapel as evening light beamed through stained glass windows.

While the ceremonies and receptions included standard traditions like exchanging rings, cutting cake, and a fun dance party, these weddings were exceptional for the summer of 2017.

Why do I say that?

Well, because my black children chose white spouses. Their white lovers chose black spouses. Their interracial love was a satisfying affront to the hatred that rolled through Charlottesville last summer in the form of torches and death.

Here we are a year later.  By all accounts, yesterday’s Unite the Right rally in DC was poorly attended. In fact, there were more people at the worship service I attended last night in downtown Charlottesville.  

I am so encouraged by this because the recent tide of blatant racism in our country has troubled me to the point of tears and despair. Aside from the personal offense I take when people of color are portrayed as ignorant, criminal, and unwanted; there’s the spiritual offense I feel as a Christian, knowing that in God’s eyes all people are equal. In heaven, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will one day worship together. The idea that any of us should dominate or feel inferior is an affront to God’s truth.

Racial reconciliation, therefore, is not really an American thing, it’s a Kingdom thing. It’s one piece of the Good News Christians should share. It should give us hope.

So let’s continue to widen our circle of friends. If our scrapbooks and social media feed are filled with photos of those who look like us, maybe our lives are too homogenous. Maybe we need to seek out a more diverse neighborhood, or school, or church. Without diverse friendships, the roots of bias deepen.

We may also need to sharpen our understanding of American history, and we can do this in a personal way. Like Charlottesville, many American cities have a history of racism that impacts citizens today. If we take time to learn that history, we will better understand those who feel marginalized. Then we can ask the Lord to show us how to do justice and love mercy. Events in other cities may be out of our control, but each of us canmake a difference in our own town.

Finally, let’s take a lesson from the marriage handbook written last summer by Michael, Hannah, Sara, and Ryan. In the first chapter, they fell in love freely, without letting racial difference stand in the way. In the second chapter, they married, committing life and love forever. The third chapter now includes two baby girls. One arrived last Thursday. The other was born yesterday, on the anniversary of the Charlottesville rally.

Both girls were born to parents who hold a torch of another kind. They are letting their lights shine and giving us all a glimpse of heaven.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Mary Coleman.


(Photo/Mary Coleman)

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One comment on “Mary Coleman: The one-year anniversary of Charlottesville

  1. Kris and Steve says:

    Mary, my husband and I both had tears … Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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