Thursday, June 30, 2016

Standing Up For a Friend

As we began monitoring more closely Immigration Reform and its impacts on the African immigrant/refugee community, on June 30, 2013, Trinity UCC’s Africa Ministry, hosted a panel discussion addressing Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Its Impact on Black Immigrants.

One of the keynote speakers on the panel was Alie Kabba, an advocate for social justice on behalf of minority immigrants and refugees in Illinois (and nationally), and a friend of Trinity UCC,. Today, we ask each of you: Are you willing to stand for our friend?

Brother Kabba is the current Executive Director of the United African Organization, the largest African organization in the U.S. Mr. Kabba is also the first African to be elected President of the Board of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights.

Born in Sierra Leone, Mr. Kabba never forgot his people. At the young age of 19, he was forced into exile – due to his outspoken resistance to injustice, corruption and the one-party dictatorship of his country. Upon arrival in the U.S., he studied Political Science and Public Policy Analysis at the University of Illinois, Chicago. 

Mr. Kabba is a fearless and dedicated servant to the minority immigrant and refugee community and to the people of Sierra Leone.  As a proud Grand Chief Patron Member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), he has joined 9 other aspiring candidates for the role as flag-bearer of the SLPP, campaigning for the Presidency of Sierra Leone. 
This past December, upon arriving in Sierra Leone for a 3-week kick-off to his presidential campaign, he was arrested on trumped up charges.  Once released, the government seized his legal documentation, preventing him from being able to return to the U.S.

While efforts by federal, state and local advocates is ongoing; there is still much help needed! Mr. Kabba was originally scheduled to be in Sierra Leone for only three weeks; the trip has now lasted 6 months and has caused a severe financial burden. Clearly, the government’s attempts were to derail Mr. Kabba’s presidential campaign. Yet, to their utter dismay, their efforts have only increased Mr. Kabba’s national profile and raised the awareness of the ruthlessness of their actions.

How can I help?

There are a number of ways to support Mr. Kabba and to ensure his safe return to the U.S. The simplest way is to contact the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) to thank them for the work they’ve already done and to strongly urge that they continue their support. Below are the names and contact details for three entities needing to hear from all of us:
  • Jason Hughes (Sierra Leone Desk, U.S. Department of State) - +1 202-647-2637;
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Assistant Secretary, U.S. Bureau of African Affairs)  +1 202-647-4440; and
  • Sierra Leone Embassy (Freetown) - +232-99905008 or by e-mail:
To discover other ways to support of Alie Kabba while he is still detained in Sierra Leone, please visit:

For additional information, feel free to also visit the official United African Organization web page.

Lynda Holiday Lawrence
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team

Friday, May 27, 2016

God Moves Powerfully in Mauritania!

Biram Dah Arbeid and Brahim Randhane

In your prayers, please take a moment to thank God for powerful movement toward justice in Mauritania, as we celebrate court verdicts of innocence and guilt in the battle to end slavery in that corner of Africa.

On October 12, 2014, Trinity United Church of Christ hosted Championing Freedom: An Interfaith Initiative to End Slavery in Mauritania. This forum was the culmination of diligent efforts by a partnership of Trinity UCC’s Africa Ministry, Masjid Al-Taqwa, and the Abolition Institute (collectively known as Championing Freedom).

A significant outcome of our efforts led to a City of Chicago City Council Resolution denouncing slavery in Mauritania, and acknowledging the work of Championing Freedom.  This document was presented at the forum, and an original copy was also delivered to the world renown Mauritanian anti-slavery leader, Biram Dah Abeid (who has visited the U.S., including Trinity UCC, as a guest of Abolition Institute).
As Mr. Abeid’s international profile increased, so has the Mauritanian government’s concern. In December of 2014, during a public rally in protest against slavery and racial discrimination, the government arbitrarily arrested Mr. Abeid and his colleague Brahim Randhane.  They were both charged with “inciting hatred” and sentenced to 2 years in prison.

With help from numerous national and international protest actions (including phone calls, email campaigns, fundraising, social media campaigns, rallies, etc.), on May 17, 2016 the Mauritanian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Abeid and Mr. Randhane. 

This ruling is all the more incredible and historic, when considered in the context of another ruling by the Mauritania Slavery Courts just the day before, when they convicted and sentenced to prison a slave-owner.  This ruling included a demand for “meaningful restitution” to the enslaved women, who had been victimized by this perpetrator. This was the first time there has been a conviction for slavery that culminated in the actual imprisonment of the perpetrator!

Our celebration is that much sweeter because the legal fight to free Mr. Abeid and Mr. Randhane was led by a lawyer of SOS Esclaves (the leading Non-Governmental Organization fighting slavery in Mauritania), Maitre Mohameden Elid, a brother of Haratine ethnicity – the ethnic group most often enslaved and oppressed by Mauritania’s elites.

While the struggle to end slavery in Mauritania is nowhere near over, this victory is a major paradigm shift in the way cases are being handled by the Mauritanian courts.  Quoting Mauritanian-born, New York activist, Bakary Tandia, the victory of Maitre Elid is the “equivalent of Thurgood Marshall winning the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.”

For more information on fighting slavery in Mauritania, visit the following web sies:

Lynda Holiday Lawrence
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Lesson in Power Dynamics

What the students – Payton Head, Missouri Student Association President,
Graduate student, Jonathan Butler, the #ConcernedStudent1950 organization, their football team, and others – at the University of Missouri accomplished by forcing the UM System President Tim Wolfe to resign is game-changing. (Read about it by clicking here.)

I’ve often wondered how African Americans could play sports for many of these southern universities with such a rich and dark history of mistreatment of Blacks.  Basketball, and particularly, football, feed the coffers of these institutions with teams made up of 50, 60, or 70% African Americans, while the universities’ “Student” populations range in the mid-single digits. Missouri specifically sits at 8%.

One can only imagine the long road of protests, sit-ins, op-eds, fasting, prayers, etc., that would have been necessary to bring about this resignation – if, indeed, that would have ever been enough.However, when the football team engaged in the work of justice activism, well, “stuff“ happened fast.


Across the country, you’d better believe university boards, and athletic directors and coaches are ruminating over what happened in Missouri. Could it happen at their school? Or importantly, what should they be doing to reduce the possibility of a similar situation.

Some will take the high road. Perhaps reviewing diversity policies, documenting processes to effectively handle harassment, proscribing response times to concerns, and developing an office of the ombudsman to address discrimination claims, all in an effort to create a better campus environment.  

Unfortunately, some will take that low road. Roger Groves, in his article in Forbes Magazine (Read it here) suggests that one of their solutions might be to ask their coaches if they are “recruiting the ‘right kind of people.’”

Out of all of this, one thing is clear and evident. Disruption, particularly of finances, and also of reputation, morale, and perceptions, is a lever that can be used to create change. My prayer is for our students and student-athletes to embrace this lesson as we move this country, kicking and screaming, into a more humane and less racist society.

This tectonic shift in power dynamics, has given me an answer to my earlier ruminations: Our brothers who take the courts and fields each week to toil for these universities are critical partners for real change in these institutions that have for so long been steeped in racial trauma and white privilege.


Daryle Brown
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson in Fresh Perspective

While the unrest sparked by the decision of the grand jury not to prosecute Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., is still smoldering - in Ferguson, MO, as well as cities and capitals around the country - there is consistent sensationalism over the property damage caused by a subset of the protesters.
You who walk in the privilege of power, whatever the power is, don't get to determine how the oppressed rage.  
- Tweet from Emma Jordan-Simpson
In an incredibly insightful article, Carol Anderson, Associate Professor of African American studies at Emory University, digs below the surface of what is typically described as black rage against police or American's justice system and uncovers the more devious and systemic presence of white rage against racial progress in America.

Check out this powerful, mind-opening piece by clicking here.

Working within the system to effect change is only one tool, and often without the pressure of active protest, an ineffective one.

My your anger become motivation, and may your motivation be baptized in genuine love for people who are vulnerable.  Amen.  - Tweet from Rev. Otis Moss III
When your grandchildren ask, "Where were you when justice became a reality instead of an ideal?" what will you have to say?

A call has gone out for no shopping on Black Friday, as a show of unity and impact for we who are seeking justice. Please join us as we enjoy family and friends. #BLACKOUTBLACKFRIDAY

The video below is from the group Blackout for Human Rights, one of the groups encouraging the Black Friday Boycott:

This has got to stop!

God bless.

A luta continua,

Daryle Brown
Trinity Justice Watch Team
The Next Movement

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Now What?

So, Election Day has come and gone. The political landscape in Illinois and in most of the country has changed. We heard how the President has turned a deaf ear on the American people, and this is why many Democrats were defeated. In fact, some Democrats did not want their respective campaigns associated with President Obama, due to his disapproval rating. Some folks (who will remain nameless) took to the airwaves and some pulpits claiming how a party change (not Jesus) is the only hope for Black folks, as Republicans replaced Democrats in both federal and state offices. (I hope they get to the bank before the checks bounce.) I think we still need to ask the question, “Where does that leave ‘us’?” When it is all said and done, what will change for the “least of these”?

On the eve of the midterm elections in 2010, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) made the infamous remark during an interview with the National Journal, The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  Now that Congress is controlled by the GOP, it will be said this election was a mandate on the economy, Affordable Health Care Act, immigration reform, “big government”, Ebola, etc., and that the Obama administration showed incompetence in dealing with “bread and butter” issues. Now that Sen. McConnell will become the Senate Majority Leader, I can safely assume his priorities have shifted (obviously) from President Obama being a one-term president, to being the leader of an obstructionist movement to make the President a “lame duck” before the 2016 elections. Guaranteed, the rich are salivating. Meanwhile, the Democrats believe they have lost touch with their base…the middle class. What about us….the faithful… going to the polls that vote “blue” regardless of whether it is in our best interests or not? Neither party talked about helping the working class and the working poor during the campaign. Remember, welfare reform, which sent millions below the poverty line, was under the Clinton administration, and he was not a Republican.

I think we still need to ask the question, “Where does that leave ‘us’?” When it is all said and done, what will change for the “least of these”?

What does the change in Congress and state houses mean for unemployment and underemployment, affordable health care, affordable housing, and so many of the issues that have plagued Black folks? To some, all the problems are a result of Democrats in control, almost as if institutional racism and neo-Jim Crow policies, police misconduct, crime, lack of opportunities, and an apartheid-style education system were the Democratic platform.  In reality these are, and will continue to be problems, regardless of which party is in office, as long as the rich are in control.

I can hardly wait to hear “Plan B” that will resolve ALL of the woes and failures not resolved under President Obama and state Democratic administrations.  And of course, if unemployment reaches double digits, health care costs skyrocket, public education receives less funding, and the economy begins to tank even more, somehow the Democrats will be blamed, even though they are no longer in charge of Congress. It really doesn’t matter which party is in Congress or the White House….many of us are still in the “outhouse.”  Until the political landscape changes in favor of the majority of Americans, and when people, and not profits, are on the top of the list of any party platform, the question still stands, “What will change for the ‘“least of these’?”

What do you think?

Kevin Tyson
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Do You Even REMEMBER our Daughters?

Five months ago, over 250 young girls were abducted from the Chibok boarding school in Nigeria. Although 53 successfully escaped, the other 223 left behind … along with scores of others (including young boys and men) have been added to this number.

In an article posted by Charlotte Alfred in the Huffington Post’s The WorldPost segment, Alfred describes in detail an 8-point fact brief on what has happened since then. To read that entire article, CLICK HERE.

Why should we care?  There’s something very disturbing about the attention span of our society when we can skip from crisis to crisis like changing clothes one day to the next. Whatever is the “hot spot” item on the news becomes our “hot spot” attention-getter. 

Here’s why we need to be concerned. Of the additional scores of kidnapped persons in Nigeria, it is reported that several of the young boys and men have been rescued. Well, what about our girls? None have been rescued

There have been numerous attempts and global interceding on the part of France, Canada, Israel, the UK and the U.S. – all of which still have not proved successful. Sightings mean nothing without rescue. Negotiations that stop short of release are meaningless. Are we indeed saying, “The foreign collective has no ability to stop mindless thugs like Boko Haram…”?

As a community of people committed to the welfare, freedom, and human dignity of our fellow sisters and brothers of humanity, we have got to keep the pressure high. We need to continue to write our governmental leaders, press our global partners, and urge the Nigerian government to resolve this tragic problem or see their power be disintegrated by the power of the voting pen at election time! In every society, we have got to stand firm, acknowledging that our daughters are equally as valuable as our young boys and men! 

Anything less, is simply unacceptable and inexcusable!

Keep hashtag #BringBackOurGirls flowing on your media web pages.  Accept nothing less!

Sis. Lynda Holiday Lawrence
Trinity UCC, Africa Ministry

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Find our Daughters!

Nigerian school girls abducted April 16th from a school in Chibok, in the country’s rural northeast.

Convoy disappears with hundreds of school girls
According to reports, armed members of Boko Haram overwhelmed security guards at the all-girls schools, herded the girls out of bed and forced them into trucks in the town of Chibok. The convoy of trucks then disappeared into the dense forest bordering Cameroon.

On Friday, Nigerian authorities updated the number of girls kidnapped to 276. At least 53 of the girls escaped, leaving 223 in the hands of their captors, police said.

Authorities said that the new figure for missing girls — 223 — could grow as police fill in spotty school enrollment records.

The Danger for our Daughters is Growing
The longer the girls are missing, the longer they are at risk and exposed to sexual violence, psychological oppression and death. Let’s work together to return these daughters to the arms of their families and communities. And further, let us take a stand so such acts of violence will not continue. These girls are sacred and we cannot remain silent. We must find them, return them home and bring charges against the abductors and anyone linked to their suffering.

Act Now
Please sign the petition on to President Obama (link and QR code on the reverse side) to insist the U.S. take action to intervene on behalf of these innocents.

Sign the petition by clicking here.

Listen to Mrs. Monica Moss discuss human trafficking on Empowering voices, by clicking here.

And let's keep this in the op of trending by keeping these hashtags active: #BringBackOurDaughters #BringBackOurGirls