Discover more from Footnotes by Jemar Tisby
Reform, Race & Religion: A Conversation about the Church and Justice
You're invited to this special event on Thursday night engaging churches in the work of repealing the death penalty
I am learning more about the death penalty and becoming even more passionate about why we should repeal it. I could use your help to continue this work. Will you become a paid subscriber today?
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s the primary issues activists sought to address were Black voting rights and racial segregation.
They wanted the ability to cast a vote and determine their own political fortunes. They wanted the signs saying “For Coloreds Only” to come down from drinking fountains and schools.
Of course, civil rights activists also fought for equal housing, social support programs, and more. But voting and desegregation were at the vanguard of their work.
In the modern-day civil rights movement policing and the criminal legal system are at the forefront of activism.
When we heard about how police killed Breanna Taylor in an unjustified “no-knock” raid. When we saw a white police officer literally kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly ten minutes. When we observed courts, juries, and judges acquitting perpetrators and showing us no one would be held responsible for crimes against Black people done under the guise of “law and order.”
When we saw all the ways that policing and the criminal legal system has and continues to brutalize and devalue Black life, we marched, we mobilized, and we demanded our dignity.
One of the most pernicious abuses of the criminal legal system is and has always been the death penalty. Here are some facts about the death penalty from Death Penalty Info:
Since 1973, nearly 200 people have been removed from death row after their advocates produced evidence of innocence.
Studies demonstrate that the death penalty does not deter crime.
Death penalty trials and executions cost far more money than lifetime incarceration. In Kansas, for example, “death penalty trials in Kansas averaged about $400,000 per case, compared to $100,000 per case when the death penalty was not sought.”
Public support for the death penalty continues to erode. In March 2021, Virginia became the first state in the former Confederacy to repeal the death penalty.
I believe that Christians—Democratic and Republican—should unite behind the effort to repeal the death penalty in the United States.
From both a moral and legal perspective, the death penalty has failed to deliver on what its proponents promise—a safer public. Even worse, the death penalty has killed innocent people and has been disproportionately doled out to the poor, to Black people, and to other people of color.
Join me for an in-depth, fact-filled conversation about the death penalty and why we should repeal it. I’ll be talking with Sam Heath of Equal Justice USA and Joia Erin Thornton of the Faith Leaders of Color Coalition (FLOCC). There will be music and poetry during this online dialogue.
This event is specifically designed for churches and faith communities, so invite your small group, Bible study, book club, and friends. It is also pointedly geared toward actions. The sponsors will provide you with resources and concrete steps that will help us move toward repealing the death penalty.
Here are the details…
Thursday, September 22
6 pm ET
Register HERE (all registrants will receive a recording of the event)
Here is more information from the organizers:
Jemar Tisby is a historian, author, and speaker who engages the Christian church in racial equity work. This event will be a time to hear from Jemar about the history of race, criminal justice and the church's complicity. Jemar will challenge the church's potential to dismantle racism, carceral punishment and state violence, including a direct confrontation of the American death penalty system. This interactive, eclectic event will include spoken word, music, artwork from a person on death row and intense intellectual value. The night is designed for Christians to watch the event with other Christians (either physically or virtually), as there will be ways to engage, serve and act on national, state, and local issues.
It’s time to stop merely talking about justice and it’s time to actually do something about it. Join the movement to repeal the death penalty today.