As stewards of Tolson’s Chapel, a building that embodies the history of the African American experience through the century following the Civil War, we, the Board of Directors of the Friends of Tolson’s Chapel feel compelled to express our support for open dialogue and reform in American race relations. We stand with the peaceful protesters who ask for honest acknowledgement of America’s failure to live up to the principles of freedom and justice for its African American citizens, who ask for meaningful reforms in this country’s deeply flawed justice system. We condemn acts of racism, violence, and vandalism from every sector of society.
Since Africans first arrived on the shores of the American continent, they have suffered and died at the hands of oppressive and often violent white authority. Some believed that the outcome of the American Civil War might solve the problem of racial injustice, but the experience of African American citizens through Reconstruction and segregation – including the men, women, and children who peopled Tolson’s Chapel through the years – was the opposite. Throughout the last century and a half, life for African Americans has been a daily struggle for acknowledgement of their humanity from their white neighbors, teachers, employers, politicians, and the very people sworn to protect them, the police. The injustice must stop.
African American citizens deserve better. Their progeny deserve better. No citizen of this great country should have to live in a constant state of hypervigilance simply because of the color of their skin. It is time for us to shape a new era in American history and to live up to our Declaration that “all men are created equal.”