On a road outside of Mount Holly, NJ stands an unadorned historic marker. It’s presence indicates the spot where the town of Timbucktoo once stood. It was an all African-American village which once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. From it’s population came several soldiers who fought for the Union during the Civil War, putting their lives on the line to bring an end to the scourge of slavery. These men are buried in a cemetery which still stands today. One day, I will find it and pay my respects.
So why would I use this historic marker as an image for injustice?
Because it shouldn’t have been necessary to have a town like Timbucktoo. There should never have been a need to have an underground railroad, or to fight the bloodiest war in American history over the “right” of one human-being to own another. In the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” Blacks should not have been assumed inferior then because of the color of their skin. They should have never been forced to prove themselves as human-beings who were fully capable of handling positions of authority and responsibility. All human-beings are created in the image of God, and it is one of the greatest shames of American culture that this “Christian Nation” 1 has willfully denied that truth throughout it’s history.
The shame is, this blight didn’t end with the cessation of slavery, or with the civil rights movement, or even with the elevation of an African-American to the highest position of power in our country. This attitude continues to be vomited forth whenever people are sent into histrionics over someone upholding the dignity of African-Americans by declaring #blacklivesmatter. Its filth is spread whenever people look upon undocumented immigrants and refer to them as“animals” 2 or “rapists.” Its puss oozes from our pours when we declare all adherents of a religion as potential terrorists, and fight to prevent families from escaping a war zone and entering our land.
None of these things should be, but are. And this historic marker, which stands as a witness to the courage and conviction of a people, reminds us that injustice must be answered. Not with hatred, but with dignity, conviction, and grace.