To love God, you must work for justice

The work I do and the person I am bear the indelible imprint and modeling of my father, Truman A. Morrison, Jr. (1918-2006). In such a time as this, I miss him more than I can say.

My father believed racism was a white problem and that he, as a white man, would be held accountable by his Creator for what he did or failed to do to confront, name, and mend this deep wound in the soul of America. As he was fond of declaring from the pulpit:“To love God you must work for justice and justice cannot be achieved in this country until racism is eradicated.”

My father was a voracious reader. His activism was nurtured, sustained and honed by the wisdom of writers both living and dead. He couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for certain books and was impatient for me to reach the age when it would be developmentally appropriate for him to hand me The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin or Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith. Whenever he lent me a volume from his sacred canon, he would always preface this act with the same words: “Melanie, I can guarantee that you won’t be the same when you finish this book. And you’ll probably say to me, ‘Dad, why didn’t you show me this before?!’”

His reverence for certain authors was contagious but even more so was his conviction that words matter, that ideas can change the course of human history, and that critical thinking is a gift endowed by the Creator that should not be squandered.

I chose this photo because he is reading and writing. The notes he scribbled in the margins of his books were commentaries on the work that got him out of bed in the morning and kept him up late at night; work for social change – his deepest calling. As he said to me so often,

“What we do or fail to do, say or fail to say, matters profoundly, Melanie. Each day, God sets before us life and death, blessing and curse, and hopes we’ll choose life.

He wasn’t trying to scare me into action or insinuate God is unforgiving. He was giving account for the hope that sustained him when despair drew near because injustice so often seemed to have the upper hand.

Most of all he wanted me to hear: You are of consequence.

© 2015 Melanie S. Morrison – All rights reserved.